Vedder Family Cemetery – Schenectady, New York - Atlas Obscura

Schenectady, New York

Vedder Family Cemetery

The small burial plot is located in a mall parking lot. 

This historic Dutch family cemetery is located in a shopping mall parking lot. A 20-by-30-foot plot, the cemetery contains 13 identifiable headstones—two standing upright and the others laying down flat—dating from 1705 to 1829.

The Vedder family were among the pioneering settlers in the Schenectady area. Though their plot was abandoned over the decades and seemed forgotten, it was the final sticking point for local community members opposed to the mall’s construction.

After they had already cited concerns about environmental damage and water quality, community members hoped the historic cemetery would impede the Wilmorite Corporation from going through with the development. But, family cemeteries do not fall under the state of New York’s jurisdiction and it couldn’t be officially declared a historic monument, so Wilmorite went ahead with its plans.

“Given the animosity of some people toward the mall and their efforts to block the mall by using the cemetery, we looked for a solution not to have to move it, and we found it,” Wilmorite vice president Alfred Friedrich said in the Schenectady Gazette on July 20, 1983. A brick wall and gate were built around the cemetery. Whether any Vedder family members visit the gravesite is unclear. After an 11-year battle (Wilmorite had formally proposed the mall to the town of Rotterdam in 1977), the mall was opened in 1988.

Formerly known as Rotterdam Square Mall, it became Via Port Rotterdam when it was purchased in May 2015 by Via Port, a subsidiary of a Turkish real estate development company. The mall itself also features an aquarium that includes sharks and stingrays.

Know Before You Go

The cemetery is near the western end of the mall, near the Kmart entrance.

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