Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia, PA



United States

Christ Church Burial Ground

Located along the eastern edge of Independence Mall, this two-acre burial ground was established in 1719 for the Christ Church congregation. Although Christ Church was flanked by a burial ground when it was established three blocks east of the current cemetery site in 1695, additional space was soon required. Thus a new cemetery was created on what was then the outskirts of town. To keep out grazing livestock, a wooden fence was erected around the rectangular site in 1740. Thirty years later, the fence was replaced by a seven-foot-tall brick wall. Marble headstones and slab tombs crowded the cemetery, with more ornate monuments added in the nineteenth century. In the early 1800s, twenty family vaults were installed along a central brick path originating at the Fifth Street entrance and flanked by rows of shade trees. In 1858, the descendants of Benjamin Franklin (who was buried in the cemetery in 1790) paid for an opening in the wall with an iron fence, which allowed passers-by to view inside. The entire wall was rebuilt (preserving the opening) in 1927 and, in 1956, a brick walkway was installed from the Arch Street entry to Franklin’s grave. 

From 1977 to 2003, the cemetery was closed for conservation: Memorial markers were repaired, walls were rebuilt, plantings were rejuvenated, and an interpretive program was established. Today, mature trees shade the 1,400 remaining markers of the estimated 6,500 that were once installed. Christ Church Burial Ground was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

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