Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a cemetery located on Bedford
Street near the center of Concord
. The cemetery is the burial site of a number of famous Concordians, including some of the United States
' greatest authors and thinkers, especially on a hill known as "Author's Ridge."
Sleepy Hollow was designed in 1855 by noted landscape architects Cleveland and Copeland, and has been in use ever since. It was dedicated on September 29, 1855; Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a dedication speech and would be buried there decades later. Both designers of the cemetery had decades-long friendships with many leaders of the Transcendentalism movement, and their design reflects that.
"Sleepy Hollow was an early natural garden designed in keeping with Emerson's aesthetic principles," writes Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn in his Nature and Ideology. In 1855, landscape designer Robert Morris Copeland delivered an address he entitled The Usefull [sic] and The Beautiful, tying his principles of naturalistic, organic garden design to Emerson's Transcendentalist principles. Shortly, afterward, Copeland and his partner were retained by the Concord Cemetery Committee, of which Emerson was an active member, to design a cemetery for the growing community.
On September 29, 1855, Emerson delivered the opening address of the cemetery's consecration. In it he lauded the designers' work. "The garden of the living," said Emerson, was as much for the benefit for the living, to communicate their relationship to the natural World
, as it was to honor the dead. By situating the monuments to the dead within a natural landscape, the architects conveyed their message, said Emerson. A cemetery could not "jealously guard a few atoms under immense marbles, selfishly and impossibly sequestering [them] from the vast circulations of nature [which] recompenses for new life [each decomposing] particle."