Forest Hills Cemetery – Boston, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Boston, Massachusetts

Forest Hills Cemetery

A beautiful Victorian-era cemetery, complete with a miniature village. 

In Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, the Victorian-era Forest Hills Cemetery lies on 275 acres of green space. Centered around a peaceful lake, the cemetery showcases both natural and human-made beauty.

Many of the graves are adorned with beautiful sculptures, and the mausoleums that dot the hillsides display attractive architectural details. Several contemporary sculptures add a sense of playfulness—look for the family of dressed-up trees and the miniature village.

The miniature village was added in 2006 as part of a larger exhibition in the cemetery. According to artist Christopher Frost, each miniature building is a replica of the home of someone buried within the cemetery. He modeled the structures after thousands of potential houses to include a medley of architectural styles.

The houses are meant to be just as diverse as the people now buried within the graveyard. Keep an eye out for the tiny concrete model home of Ralph Martin, a wagon-driver who perished in Boston’s most unusual disaster, the Great Molasses Flood.

The Victorian cemetery is home to a number of prominent historical figures, including poets Anne Sexton and E.E. Cummings and playwright Eugene O’Neill. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Know Before You Go

The cemetery gates open daily at 7:00 a.m. Seasonal tours are offered. You can also download a map of the cemetery for a self-guided tour.

The miniature town is on White Oak Ave, in between Primrose and Rock Maple Ave. Definitely get the "detailed" map from the main office on your way in. (The simple map doesn't have enough detail to get around.) You can park by the office but the cemetery is huge, so better to drive in if you really want to see a lot of the cemetery. Don't get confused by the detailed map. Many names are 'Paths' - i.e. they are not roads. They are walking paths - though I use the term 'paths' loosely. Really they're just signs to let you know approximately where you are. To find the little houses - which are cute and fun to see - they are in section 'C' on the big map. Get to the intersection of White Oak Ave and Rock Maple Ave. Start walking up White Oak Ave and on your right hand side, nestled among the rocks and hidden in the trees and bushes are the houses. The houses are named: Lead Manufacturer, Architect, Merchant, Grocer, Musician, Poet, Temperance Leader & Wagon Driver. Which is your favorite?!

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