Mineola Lake.

Douglas Keister‘s excellent: “Stories in Stone. New York. A field guide to New York City area cemeteries and their residents” describes it as follows:

Kensico might rightly be called the jewel in the crown of the Westchester County cemetery complex. There are five cemeteries bisected by the Taconic State Parkway in the side-by-side communities of Valhalla and Hawthorne, including Kensico, Gate-of-Heaven, Mount Eden, Mount Pleasant and Sharon Gardens. Kensico has the largest number of notable residents and an eclectic array of architecture.

Kensico Cemetery was organized in 1889 by a group of seven White Plains citizens. The name Kensico is an anglicization of Siwanoy Indian chief Co-ken-se-co, one of the signatories of the deed for the city of White Plains. The objective of the organizers of the cemetery was to establish a vast cemetery complex that would serve the death-care needs of New Yorkers for generations to come. The original cemetery was platted at 250 acres. It is now 461 acres. By 1890, a private railroad station to accommodate special funeral cars and an office was built, and in 1891, the cemetery sa its first burial. In 1894, Kensico’s first community mausoleum was, built followed by a larger Gothic Revival community mausoleum in 1925. Kensico’s meticulously manicured grounds contain a mix of magnificent mausoleums, celebrity grave sites, and a number of specialized plots dedicated to organizations such as the Freemasons, Friars Club, Actors Fund, among others. Maps indicating burial locations of notable residents and a brochure detailing the history of the cemetery are available at the administration building. Kensico Cemetery also contains Sharon Gardens, a Jewish burial area that is directly across from the main part of Kensico.

Keister includes Kensico among “The Big Four” cemeteries in the New York area. The other three are Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (which I once visited for a concert in the chapel); Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx (which I’ve not yet been to) and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery with which I am very familiar as it’s just down the road from our house in Briarcliff Manor. Although Sleepy Hollow has its fair share of grand mausoleums it also has a very old section (The Old Dutch Burying Ground), which is at least 200 years older than anything at Kensico. Kensico, however, has a great variety of tombs, so many in a neo-classical style that while walking around I sometimes felt that I was in the Roman Forum, or walking around the Parthenon.

I didn’t have all that much time when I went (In fact I barely scratched the surface) so I feel sure that I will return.

Leave a Reply