A Middletown landmark with ties to New York City’s Central Park has received a well attended community tour. More than 40 people, young and old, turned out on a beautiful autumn Saturday morning at Hillside Cemetery.
Walking through the 50 acres you easily begin to feel the influence of the architect who helped design Central Park. The openness; the great variety of trees, walking paths; roadways; hills; and the park like feel let you know this is a special place. Calvert Vaux began the design work in the mid 1850’s. The Cemetery was consecrated in 1861.
I think most people on the tour would agree that the stone work and monuments, statuary, mausoleums and obelisks bearing the names of Middletown’s prominent families have provided a good record of the business and civic history of the city.
Three Congressional Medal of Honor winners from the civil war are buried here. There is also an area devoted to black veterans of the civil war, and small section of graves of revolutionary war veterans.
The tour was presented by the Hillside Cemetery Corporation. William Beakes, Joseph Stewart, William Morrison and Andrew Mills were manning the sign in booth. Frank Schuerholz led the walking tour.
He began the tour saying this is a place for meditation and reflection always open to people in the community.
His tour was a wealth of information on the unique monuments such as the lawyers desk, and on the many individuals and families buried here. To me it was a walk though Middletown’s history. One plot was for a man who built plank roads to town, the next was one for who built the railroads. There were the doctors, the industrialists, the congressman, the banker, steamship operator, and a baker who became Middletown’s first Mayor.
The main entrance to Hillside Cemetery is on Mulberry Street in Middletown. Check out the pictures on this post or visit the cemetery in person. You’ll consider it a special spot once you’ve seen it.
The cemetery has been placed on the Federal Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of Interior.
Keeping up with the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery is costly. The Hillside Cemetery Corporation, 50 Mulberry St, Middletown, NY 10940 has established a Capital Improvement Fund. Those who would like to help preserve the cemetery can contribute.
The cemetery corporation has an informative booklet, “A History of Hillside Cemetery” which they sell for $10.00.
By Art Livesey.