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Early Conservation Projects

The Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's Oldest Historic Site

Since its establishment in 1640, the Ancient Burying Ground has been owned and maintained by the Town, and later the City of Hartford. By the time its 200th anniversary approached, it was clear that the municipality needed help in caring for the site and many of stones on it.

Efforts to preserve the Ancient Burying Ground began with an 1836 campaign spearheaded by Daniel Wadsworth of Hartford. His father, Jeremiah Wadsworth, a veteran of the American Revolution and leading figure in the post-war development of the national government, had died in 1804 and had been one of the last people buried here.

That pioneering project included construction in 1837 of a concrete obelisk faced with brownstone into which were carved the names of Hartford’s first settlers, earning it the name “Founders Monument.”

In 1896 the Ruth Wyllys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution significantly improved the site. They conserved about 90 of the deteriorating stones. They also arranged to have the Ancient Burying Ground enclosed with a wrought-iron fence designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White. Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe led the process, which included clearing away deteriorating buildings along Gold Street, then adjacent to the Ancient Burying Ground. “The Gold Street Lady,” as Mrs. Holcombe came to be known, was honored with the rare privilege of being laid to rest, along with her husband and daughter, in the Ancient Burying Ground.