Laurel Hill Cemetery celebrates 175 years with new book

Laurel Hill Cemetery in East Falls is celebrating its 175th anniversary by publishing its first book, “175 Years of Reflections, Laurel Hill Cemetery, 1836-2011.”

The book is comprised of 175 reflections on the landmark including poems, essays, artwork and photographs.

Dated 1835, the first piece in the book is an entry from the diary of Laurel Hill Founder Jay Smith as he first conceived the idea for the cemetery. The rest are collected from other contributors whose lives have been enriched by the historic site. All entries were compiled for publication by Laurel Hill staff members and co-editors Alexis Jeffcoat, Gwen Kaminski and Emma Stern.

The idea of a compilation of stories and pictures about the cemetery came a couple of years ago as the staff was deciding how best to commemorate the anniversary.

“One of our visitors had said, next to home, Laurel Hill was one of his favorite places,” Kaminiski said.

Inspired by the cemetery’s devoted fans, the staff began this project by searching through its archives for material and reaching out to the community to write reflections. A grant given by one of the Laurel Hill Cemetery board members is making the publication possible.

The book will be first available at its launch event on Aug. 13, at 1 p.m. A presentation about the book and readings of selected excerpts will serve to celebrate the important occasion in the cemetery’s history.

Advanced registration for the event is requested. All proceeds from book sales will support the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery.

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