The Dedication of Sleep Hollow, 1855 notes: an electronic edition


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THE DEDICATION OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, 1855 notes:
an electronic edition

THE DEDICATION OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, 1855

54. Order of Exercises at the Dedication of Sleepy Hollow
Cemetery,
Concord, Sept. 29, 1855, 2, P.M.
[printed program] (Concord: B.
Tolman, 1855). Letterpress on paper.

Emerson delivered the address at the dedication of
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on September 29,
1855
. Today, Sleepy Hollow is a tourist
destination for thousands of pilgrims to Concord,
including many who come specifically to see Emerson’s
final resting place.

Laid out on land purchased from the estate of Deacon Reuben
Brown,
Sleepy Hollow was named, according to George Bradford Bartlett in
his 1880 Concord Guide Book, for the
natural “amphitheatre” that “had borne the name of Sleepy
Hollow long before it was thought of as a burial place.” The choice
of name may or may not also have reflected local familiarity with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” In
his dedication address, Emerson remarked upon Sleepy Hollow’s
“seclusion from the village in its
immediate neighborhood,” which had long made the area
“an easy retreat on a Sabbath day, or a summer twilight.”

The plans for the cemetery were drawn up by landscape
architects Horace William Shaler Cleveland and
Robert Morris Copeland. In their design,
Cleveland and Copeland avoided the imposition of a geometric grid of lots over the terrain,
preferring instead to place lots on paths and drives
that followed the natural outlines of the land, and
respecting native trees and plants. Cleveland’s sense
of landscape design was informed by Emerson’s approach
to aesthetics. In his speech at the dedication of
Sleepy Hollow,
Emerson extolled the natural landscape as the proper
focus of the landscape architect: “Modern taste has shown that there is no ornament,
no architecture alone, so sumptuous as well disposed woods and waters, where art has
been employed only to remove superfluities, and bring out the natural
advantages.”

Leslie Wilson
.
Date: 2006
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