Cemetery of the Week #17: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Letty Lent’s gravestone

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
540 North Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, New York 10591
Telephone: (914) 631-0081
info@sleepyhollowcemetery.org
Founded: 1849 as Tarrytown Cemetery
Size: 90 acres
Number of interments: 45,000
Open: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The village of Sleepy Hollow celebrates its famed Headless Horseman on its police cars and with banners on every lamppost. According to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Horseman haunted the Old Dutch Burying Ground, which dates to the 17th century. That graveyard will be the subject of another Cemetery of the Week column. Today I want to talk about the newer Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which wraps around the Old Dutch Burying Ground.

This weekend, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is offering tours on Sunday, May 29, and on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day), both at 2 p.m. The tour costs $19.99 per person and advance reservations required. Here’s the link.

For braver souls, there’s also an evening lantern tour on Sunday, May 29, from 8 p.m. until 10. That costs $24.99. Additional tour dates and more information are listed at http://sleepyhollowcemetery.org/news-events/.

They also offer occasional photography workshops in the cemetery.

If you’re interested in doing a short self-guided tour, the cemetery offers free legal-sized maps featuring eight major figures buried there, including Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, and Elizabeth Arden. You can get a copy from the cemetery office or from the literature box at the cemetery’s south gate, adjacent to the Old Dutch Church. They also sell a larger full-color map highlighting more than 50 features of the cemetery. Those maps are available for purchase at the Philipsburg Manor museum shop, across the street from the cemetery’s south gate.

*

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a lush, gorgeous “rural” cemetery in the fashion of London’s Highgate and Brooklyn’s Greenwood. It is a wonderful place to wander on a spring day.

Walking up the hill from the parking lot between the Old Dutch Church and the Pocantico River, you’ll find the author of the Legend responsible for Sleepy Hollow’s renown. Just shy of the crest of the hill, Washington Irving rests inside a simple iron gate emblazoned with his family name. A plain marble tablet, streaked green with lichen, marks his grave. According to a bronze plaque placed in 1972 by remaining members of the Irving family, the “graveplot” is now a national historic landmark. When I visited, the American Legion had placed an American flag on Irving’s grave to pick it out from all the others, which I appreciated, since the plot’s gate was locked. Irving served in the New York Militia in the War of 1812, but never saw action. Bluebells brighten the grass between the graves.

I found the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery incredibly peaceful. The traffic’s quiet hiss on Route 9 counter-pointed the singing birds. Although I couldn’t see them from the churchyard, lilacs perfumed the air.

I saw no indication that the headless horseman writhed restlessly beneath the sod. In fact, life seemed to be in full force, from spiders winding strands across the ancient stones to squirrels chasing each other up and down the stolid elms. Violets flecked the grass, visited by humming bees. Somewhere near the Pocantico River, a woodpecker knocked on a tree.

While Sleepy Hollow Cemetery holds its share of famous or notable historic figures, the historic unknowns captivated me more. Snowy white flowers adorned a bush growing atop the grave of Letty Lent, the thirteen-year-old wife of “Capt.” Isaac Lent. Born on Christmas Eve 1806, the poor girl had already been married by August 1819, when she passed away. I wondered if she’d spoken her vows in the nearby church.

The cemetery has featured in several notable films and videos. Several outdoor scenes from the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows (spun off from the hit 1960s vampire soap opera Dark Shadows) were filmed at the cemetery’s receiving vault. I’d link to the trailer, but the cheese factor is too high.

In January 1989, the Ramones were buried—alive—in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery for their Pet Sematary video. None of the deceased Ramones are buried there now.

Useful links:

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery homepage

GPS information from CemeteryRegistry.us

My review of Permanent New Yorkers

About Loren Rhoads

I am the author of the essay collection Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, co-author of the novel As Above, So Below, and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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5 Responses to Cemetery of the Week #17: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

  1. Pingback: Cemetery of the Week #33: The Old Dutch Burying Ground | Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World

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