York Village Pen & Ink

First Parish Cemetery
180 York Street
York, Maine 03909
(207) 363-3647
email info@firstparishcemetery.org


Trustees
First Parish
Cemetery
1837  


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History of the Cemetery

The First Parish Cemetery that we know today began in 1837 when the First Parish Church set aside for burials a half an acre of land at the rear of the meeting house. Prior to the development of this area the old burying yard located across the street from the Church was used by parishioners.  Subsequent land acquisitions led to a gradual expansion of the Cemetery boundaries.

In 1870 the Parish established a Cemetery Board of Trustees in order to administer the property and manage funds.

A 1910 plan of York Harbor shows a smaller parcel ("New Cemetery") directly behind Town Hall and the First Parish Church, with a larger parcel ("Parish Lot") extending behind. A walking trail ("Little River Path") is shown to have originated from the New Cemetery road, extended through the Parish Lot to the Little River, where it meandered following the river's course and eventually became a walking path that encircled much of York Harbor.

Chicago landscape architect Ossian Cole (O.C.) Simonds (1857-1931) was involved with the planting design in the cemetery during the early 20th century. Simonds planned the expansion of the famous Graceland Cemetery in Chicago (1878), and in 1903 he established the firm O.C. Simonds & Company. One of Simonds' major contributions throughout the town of York was the design of the gardens at the York summer home of Bryan Lathrop, president of the Old York Improvement Society and Chicago's Graceland Cemetery Association. This relationship is likely how Simonds became involved with First Parish Cemetery. The extent and location of his planting design at First Parish is not known, only that he oversaw plantings in 1908.

Drawing - York Village Map