Quiet Spaces, Green Oasis

Although these garden spots are the abodes of the deceased, cemeteries also serve as destinations for those among the living who seek peace, quiet and natural beauty. Come touch the green, green grass of Jefferson Memorial Park and the Homewood and Allegheny cemeteries.



A cutleaf Japanese maple displays the first signs of autumn.

Photos by John Totten

(page 1 of 3)

In a place where you’d least expect a glorious garden experience, there are three historic cemeteries with fascinating stories to tell. The cemeteries offer soothing foliage, wide-open vistas and a gentle respite from the congestion of life in the city or in the suburbs. Each commandeers vast expanses of some valuable real estate, which can be enjoyed while gates are open during daylight and early evening hours. Escape and explore these lovely landmarks and their gorgeous landscapes.

jefferson memorial park

 The Thomas Jefferson Mausoleum serves as the magnificent centerpiece of Jefferson Memorial Park.

 

Jefferson Memorial Park

Both religious and secular symbols offer families a personal choice of resting places at Jefferson Memorial Park, located in the South Hills suburb of Pleasant Hills. Taking in the lovely view from a vantage point near the entrance, it seems appropriate that the sections of this beautifully landscaped cemetery are referred to as “gardens” rather than by numbers. St. John the Baptist features are as prominent as those of Thomas Jefferson, with almost as much space devoted to liberty and country (Garden of Freedom) as to faith (Garden of Devotion).

Because the cemetery is relatively young—by cemetery standards—families can still select almost any garden they wish for interment. What they cannot choose is an upright headstone or monument to bear the family name.
In keeping with the vision of founder Harry Neel, Jefferson Memorial looks and feels more like a serene park than a cemetery. On crystal-clear days in autumn, everything looks green except the changing leaves. All grave markers are hidden in plain sight, cast in bronze and lying level with the ground.

Families whose loved ones are buried here obviously embrace the founder’s philosophy, for the integrity of this verdant landscape is virtually uninterrupted by bouquets, wreaths or ornaments of any kind—other than the sculptures, ponds, hedges and plantings that were carefully planned and placed. During a recent stroll, I did spot the reverent placement of a Terrible Towel over one of the bronze plaques, although I’m sure the young man seated nearby planned to take it with him when he left.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.
What to Do with Unused Churches in Pittsburgh

What to Do with Unused Churches in Pittsburgh

A Pittsburgh preservation group says there are approximately 30 unused churches in Allegheny County.
How Would You Make Pittsburgh's Liberty Avenue Better?

How Would You Make Pittsburgh's Liberty Avenue Better?

This week, your suggestions could have a significant impact on one of Downtown’s busiest streets.
A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Hamilton’: Everything You Need to Know

A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Hamilton’: Everything You Need to Know

The hit musical is coming to the ‘Burgh, so what’s the big deal?
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
For Pirates' Jameson Taillon: Pressure is a Privilege

For Pirates' Jameson Taillon: Pressure is a Privilege

As Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon enters his first full season with the big leagues, the weight of anticipation has given way to a need to deliver.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Booze, Beer and Bars: Pittsburgh's Fascinating History of Drink

Booze, Beer and Bars: Pittsburgh's Fascinating History of Drink

Bartender Sean Enright and journalist Cody McDevitt dive into Pittsburgh's boozy history with "Pittsburgh Drinks: A History of Cocktails, Nightlife & Bartending Tradition."

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
#Wedding: What’s Trending in the Wedding World

#Wedding: What’s Trending in the Wedding World

Married couples talk hashtags — and why they used them at their weddings.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Get the Scoop Behind One of Pittsburgh’s Most Unique Condos

Get the Scoop Behind One of Pittsburgh’s Most Unique Condos

The Carnegie Museum of Art’s new exhibit features the works of architect Arthur Lubetz and Front Studio, including the vibrant Glass Lofts Building in Garfield.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

The Outdoor Recreation Club becomes the newest student organization at the college.

Comments