New Life for Old Cemeteries: Connecting Communities and Open Space Conference Day 2

Presentations Online 9 AM - 12:15 PM EST November 4 & 5; Afternoon Tour Options In Person at 2:00 PM EST

On-line Conference (with Optional cemetery tour at 2 PM)

Cemeteries in America date from the 1830s when increasingly, cities became too dense for respectable burials. “Rural” cemeteries were created outside city limits as eternal resting places for the dead. This was a time before there were public parks and art museums, and these rural cemeteries served as places for the living to escape the din of the industrial city and enter a space of peaceful contemplation amid winding roads and picturesque vistas. Cemeteries became destinations for families, where with picnic basket in tow, they would enjoy the sculptured monuments and beautifully designed botanical gardens.

Today, historic cemeteries continue to represent large portions of open space in many cities. Preserving this open space, particularly in an era of global climate change, is critical for the sustainability of urban communities. Cemeteries, especially during the recent pandemic, increasingly became places of refuge and recreation, peace, and connection. Caring for their living collections of canopy trees and shrubs, as well as the resting places of their dead, has never been more important.

Learn how cemeteries are an integral part of our urban infrastructure and ecosystem and how preserving and caring for these important open spaces are vital to the ecological, economic and social sustainability of communities today.

Who should attend: Staff and volunteers of primarily older/historic cemeteries, open space preservationists, historians, urban planners, and monument proponents who see the cultural value in commemorating people buried in cemeteries.

For complete conference Agenda click HERE.

Fee: $65 for two days- Includes one tour per day

$35 for one day- Incudes one tour

$20 per day Student rate- Includes one tour per day


Kate Benisek is a civic ecologist, urban horticulturist, and landscape architect in academic practice. Kate is an assistant professor of instruction and faculty member at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture.

Joseph Charap is Green-Wood Cemetery’s Director of Horticulture and Curator.

Sean Connolly is Executive Director of Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust.

Cara Ferrentino is a Program Officer at the William Penn Foundation. Cara’s work supports Philadelphia’s public spaces - parks, libraries, recreation centers, plazas, gardens and public pathways - and the communities they serve.

Aaron Greenberg is the Arboretum Manager at West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home and Laurel Hill Cemetery and is an International Society of Arboriculture Board Certified Master Arborist.

Roy J. Ingraffia, Jr. is the National Director of Industry Development at the International Masonry Institute.

Elizabeth Milroy teaches courses in the history of Western art with a specialty in art and material culture in North American from the colonial period to the 20th century. Her research focuses on the history of cultural spaces, specifically public parks and historic sites in Philadelphia.

Monica Rhodes is nationally known for spearheading efforts to connect communities around the country with historic places. As the Director of Resource Management at the National Park Foundation (NPF), Rhodes oversees grant-making to historic properties and develops strategies for preserving cultural heritage.

Robin Rick is Facility and Landscape Manager at the Woodlands. Robin helps maintain the site’s historically significant features - buildings and trees - while welcoming daily use by the community and visitors.

Conference Co-Sponsors:

Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust

Historic Eden Cemetery

Laurel Hill Cemetery and West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

The Woodlands

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