To Grove Street Cemetery: Tear down that wall

When Vincent Scully ’40 GRD ’49 was master of Morse College in the early 1960s, he made a habit of cross-country skiing in the nearby Grove Street Cemetery. His route was, by necessity, circular — there is only one gate with access in and out of the expansive walled cemetery.

In a telephone interview Thursday from his home in Florida, Scully was not thinking much about snow. But he would still like to see a less confined cemetery sitting in an area of New Haven that is also an increasingly important part of Yale’s campus.

Professor Vincent Scully said the stone wall surrounding Grove Street Cemetery should be opened.
Daniel Carvalho
Professor Vincent Scully said the stone wall surrounding Grove Street Cemetery should be opened.

“Yale is cut right through the liver by that cemetery,” the emeritus Sterling professor of the History of Art said with characteristic zeal. “It would make a great difference if the cemetery were more welcoming.”

As it has become clear that two new residential colleges will soon be built just north of the cemetery along Prospect Street, more and more University officials are becoming convinced that Scully is right: The sandstone wall surrounding the cemetery, they say, must, at least in part, come down.

But words do not move stone. For Yale to drastically alter a historically protected part of New Haven will be no small task — not least because of hesitation on the part of the cemetery’s leadership, which fears that more pedestrian access will bring inappropriate behavior to a cemetery with a storied past.

***

Cemeteries are, if nothing else, places of great history.

The Grove Street Cemetery, now a National Historical Landmark owned and operated independently of Yale, is no exception. Since its incorporation in 1797, the cemetery has been the burial ground for luminaries ranging from cotton-gin inventor Eli Whitney 1792 to New Haven’s first mayor, Roger Sherman, and several Yale presidents from Ezra Stiles 1746 to A. Bartlett Giamatti ’60.

On Oct. 27, 1947, over a century after the wall’s completion, Henry Townshend, then the cemetery’s historian, delivered a speech to the New Haven Colony Historical Society in which he outlined the cemetery’s roots.

For the better part of its first 50 years, the cemetery had nothing but a wooden fence around it. But as the wood started to rot, prominent New Haven residents began to consider a more permanent enclosure for what was destined to be their final resting place.

Between 1840 and 1845, after raising around $14,000 in private funds from local residents that were matched by the city, cemetery leaders oversaw the construction of a wall that exists to this day.

Construction of the sandstone wall began, Townshend noted, on the north side of the cemetery, which was at the time the least central section of the cemetery’s perimeter. Quickly, the wall was extended to cover the eastern and western portions of the cemetery — now bordering Prospect and Ashmun streets, respectively.

Most interesting, however, was the design for the cemetery’s southernmost end, its Grove Street front. Architect Henry Austin wanted to allow a view of the cemetery on its south side, so he selected a wrought-iron fence in place of the otherwise dominant sandstone wall.

Far and away the Grove Street Cemetery’s most prominent feature, of course, is its Egyptian-Revival gateway, emblazoned with strong letters that read simply: “The Dead Shall Be Raised.”

Denison Olmsted 1813, a Yale science professor, speaking at the gateway’s dedication, expressed his hope that there would be strong interaction between New Haven’s residents and its burial grounds.

“Let us all come hither to think calmly but wisely on our own inevitable destiny,” he pronounced.

Townshend, in his speech, added a few words that are perhaps the perfect explanation of the importance of open walls to achieving the ideal of Olmstead’s lofty words.

“This might have been difficult to do if the massive stone wall intervened,” the historian said.

***

For Scully and others, the massive stone wall intervenes not just spiritually but also physically.

Yale’s renowned Egyptologist John Darnell pointed out in an interview that — whether a nuisance or not — the stone wall itself is not particularly true to the Egyptian-Revival tradition.

“If you just saw the wall itself,” Darnell said, “I don’t think anything about it says Egyptomania.”

But Darnell, who was quick to praise the gateway itself for its ornamentation and design, also noted the important role the wall plays in providing a sense of intimacy and privacy within the cemetery.

For advocates of opening the cemetery’s walls, that role is a major hurdle. Indeed, a February report examining questions related to the creation of two new residential colleges called for the University to work with the cemetery’s standing committee in hopes of finding mutually agreeable changes.

Joseph Gordon, the dean of undergraduate education and chair of a committee that examined the colleges’ possible impact on academic resources, said he owns “real estate” in the Grove Street Cemetery.

He would just like a better view.

***

The report itself stayed clear of calling for the demolition of the entire stone wall.

Instead, it includes essentially two recommendations: the addition of a second gate on the north side of the cemetery and a suggestion that “a portion of the cemetery’s historic wall on Prospect Street be replaced with a beautiful wrought-iron face so as to open the cemetery to view and reduce the sense of a forbidding walled-off enclosure.”

In Scully’s mind, such changes would represent progress against a wall that has long “ghettoized” its northern neighbors.

“Ideally, the wall would be metal all the way around,” Scully said in the interview. “But I think there should be at least one gate on the north side — it would make a great difference.”

Gordon said he thinks a few well-placed entry points could help the cemetery feel more like those in the centers of some European cities that act almost as parks.

“I think it would make for a less intimidating presence,” he said. “And I think it would mean that more people would get to appreciate the cemetery.”

University Planner Laura Cruickshank said in an interview earlier this semester that regulations pertaining to historic sites could pose difficulties for any potential changes to the cemetery walls. She could not be reached for comment this week.

Beyond simply preservation concerns, though, cemetery proprietors see other problems with any downsizing of their perimeter.

William Cameron Jr., the cemetery’s superintendent, said he would not be able to adequately patrol the grounds if more entrances were set up — which, he said, could lead to troublesome behavior.

“There would be drinking, there would be drugs,” he said. “This is a beautiful place, and it should just be left alone.”

Scully, for his part, said increased foot traffic might actually make the cemetery safer, and Gordon also said security personnel could be added as necessary.

Still, Emeritus History professor Howard Lamar GRD ’51, who served as acting president of the University from 1992 to 1993 and is one of several University affiliates on the cemetery’s standing committee, said one gate is best for a cemetery.

“It’s a sacred and private place,” he said. “It should be treated as such.”

And while Lamar did not rule out the possibility of adding more entrances, he did say that such changes will likely not happen any time soon.

“We’ll address it when the colleges are built,” he said. “We have to wait and see.”

Comments

  • Alum65

    So another historic piece of New haven will be lost to satisfy Yales' ever growing demands? Why not bulldoze the dead and famous and dump thier remains in the sound to build a base for a Yale ferry service to New York? Will Yale pay for the needed demolition and pay for and man the extra security posts that will be required once the cemetery is opened to the general public? And then will Yale lay claim to the cemetery as it hungers for ever more space? Leave the cemetery be. It's not a park or visual art, nor is it a common walkway between campus and Science Hill. Is nothing sacred in the pursuit of laziness?

  • s

    I hope that creative people can continue to discuss this and come up with some plan to make the cemetery less forbidding, more a part of the town and campus. From my first visit, I've thought how much better it would be if there were a north gate so that passing through it could be a daily walk through a treasure. Can't we figure out a way to open it and also keep it protected?

  • Ken McKenna

    It might not be necessary to completely tear down the cemetery wall to open up the views from the streets. Another possibility might be to cut a series of large windows in the existing walls, windows that could be outfitted with attractive and secure wrought iron screens stylistically consistent with the rest of the wall detailing and iron work now there. That would preserve more of the 19th Century work while opening it up a bit. Just a thought.

  • DesignNewHaven

    Continue to discuss and check for updates on the proposal here:

    http://www.designnewhaven.com/2008/04/mr-gorbachev-tear-down-this-wall.html

  • a ghost

    This is a horrific idea. When will these preposterous ideas stop coming out? Stepping into the Grove Street Cemetery is like stepping back over two hundred years into an older, quieter New England. The ambience is protected by the walls. If you tear down the walls (or even one wall), the ambience will leak out the "beautiful iron gates."

    This idea is totally unnecessary too. Nothing makes a black spot on the map seem safer just because you can see through it. Remember that with the colleges built behind the cemetery, all of Prospect is going to be a booming area. The colleges committee proposed building stores in the lower level of the Beckton center. Any visitors to the cemetary in the daytime would have to switch their eyes from the graves on the ground to the honking cars flying by on Prospect.

    The Yale Community should stand up in protest to protect this jewel. The cemetery is one of my favorite places on campus and the University has no authority to touch it.

  • DesignNewHaven

    A ghost, what if Prospect Street were traffic-calmed and turned into a pedestrian-friendly, bike-path-lined, one-directional street with a maximum car speed of 10MPH and a primary purpose of being the main route for a new Yale Shuttle/Light Rail Line that stopped all along College and Prospect every 2 minutes?

    Then the cars wouldn't be "flying by."

  • Anonymous

    >> Another possibility might be to cut a series of large windows in the existing walls..<<

    Kewl. Ralph Loren could do the drapery.

  • anon

    Carl Y,

    Mario Buatta! Eighties retro is in and some nice bright chintz would perk up a Prospect Street 8:00 am February slog to chemistry class like gangbusters!

  • JHC

    wow , i always thought that there were dead people right behind the wall,you know ,like filled with dirt -a retaining wall ..and if you pulled a stone out a hand will fall out

  • JHC

    Your now free to roam

  • Gfleece

    I am reminded of the both the Egyptian Revival gateway over the entrance to Grove Street, which states "The Dead Shall Be Raised", as well as President Richard Levin's 1997 bicentennial celebration joke (borrowed from Yale President Jeremiah Day) which states: "They certainly will be, if Yale needs the property." Never before has this been more fitting.

    We, the living, have a responsibility to the dead within Grove Street, as well as to New Haven itself, to preserve and protect the cemetery as it is - meaning no changes to its current layout. The cemetery was never designed to be a cut-through, nor was it designed for Vincent Scully's cross country skiing excursions. Instead, it is New Haven's Burying Ground, a place for the residences of New Haven to find their final rest. And as such, it needs to be recognized as the historical, cultural and religious landmark that it is.

    Not only would modifying the 1848-1849 walls be intrusive to the serenity of the cemetery itself (thus destroying the park-like quality which everyone enjoys), but it would violate the burying ground's US National Historic Landmark status.

    Further, Vincent Scully and Joseph Gordon, dean of undergraduate education, are mistaken when they state that increasing access to the cemetery through additional gates will make the cemetery safer and increase people's appreciation for the grounds. Increasing access to the cemetery through additional gateways will only increase cemetery vandalism and the potential for increased crime. It will also allow for the more negative aspects of modern New Haven, namely foot, road and noise congestion, to impact the cemetery. Is this what we really want?

    Instead, William Cameron Jr, the cemetery's superintendent (and thus an authority on the running and maintenance of Grove Street cemetery), should be listened to: "This is a beautiful place, and it should just be left alone." Even Howard Lamar, Emeritus History professor, agrees: "It’s a sacred and private place…. It should be treated as such."

  • ThatCoffinGuy

    When will people stop suggesting a light rail/hovercraft system with stops every 2 minutes on Science Hill? Unless you need the handi-van, try walking and actually looking at the architecture of your surrounding buildings. Whether carraiges or cars the streets were designed for traffic. Just as a cemetery is designed for the quiet repose of our dead, not a track and field event. Walls make good neighbors.

  • Paul

    The concerns voiced here that providing more pedestrian and visual access to Grove Street cemetery would somehow intolerably disturb it and its dead fly in the face of many counterexamples. For example, Trinty Church in lower Manhattan has a lovely cemetery that is quite open to the public, physically and visually. Boston has many such cemeteries. The list goes on and on. Resistance to providing more pedestrian access to Grove Street Cemetary in the face of world wide counterexamples and changing needs is just reactionary.

  • Lifelong Resident

    I think the wall should be maintained. The cemetary would fall to vandalism if left open with a gate and fence.
    Take a cue from Central Park, make the Prospect side of the street well lit and maybe place a bench or two on the grass.

  • New Havenette

    I agree with "Lifelong Resident", except that I think it is possible to create a sympathetic compromise. Reduce the height of the wall to maybe 3 feet or so, cap it with a lovely capstone, and top it off with a high iron fence, incorporating the necessary "period" lighting posts. Voila! The wall then BECOMES the "bench" lined with happy students sunning themselves there on a warm spring day, with a view of the lovely "garden" cemetery.

  • bfd77

    to number #13-
    Correct me if I'm wrong. But Trinity Church doesn't have a historic sandstone wall around it that has been there for 150 years. Does it? Neither do most Boston cemeteries. What next? Yale digs up the bones on the Green and puts up a student center there? It's open space isn't it? You can fit a new dorm in the center of Old Campus. The Grove Street Cemetery is open during the day. Yale students aren't interested in dead white guys. As your statement shows, Yale students appear to only be interested in what serves them best.

  • jordan

    Tear down that ghastly structure on the other side of Prospect. Now

  • anon

    to # 16 -

    Your response is confused. Trinty Church cemetery in lower Manhattan and many colonial era Boston cemeteries have obtained very substantial pedestrian and visual access without intolerably disturbing the cemeteries or their dead. Whether the Grove Street Cemetery wall is itself of so much historical (or other) significance as to warrant protection from all modification is distinct from concerns that increased traffic or visability would intolerably disturb the cemetery or its dead. You may coninue to confuse the points in your own mind if you wish.

    As far the modifying the wall is concerned, opening up the Grove Street Cemetery to pedestrian traffic alone would require nothing more than another gate. I, personally, do not think that wall should be considered so sacred that even cutting a single additional gate is impossible. The Grove Street Cemetery wall is not more significant than, say, Carnagie Hall in New York, which has been modified inside and out several times within the last few years alone. And, as noted above, the separate concerns that increased traffic or visibility would intolerably disturb the cemetery or its dead are not consistent with the experience of other cities such as New York and Boston.

    I would go further and argue that the Grove Street Cemetery wall is not so significant that it should be protected even from complete removal (I would prefer removal and relocation to outright demolition, because I think a better place could be found for the wall). But it is not necessary to favor complete removal to advocate another gate or windows or partial removal along Prospect Street to suit current needs or desires.

  • Gfleece

    The Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan is a poor example if you're looking for comparable cemeteries with Grove Street, as it is located within a churchyard. Grove Street Cemetery is not.

    Grove Street is not like other cemeteries. It is the oldest incorporated cemetery in the United States and it is one of the best examples of the attempt to combine a traditional burying ground with a garden-like atmosphere. This makes it unique, which is why it's a landmark.

    Henry Austin's 1848/9 wall adds to this idea by helping to preserve and maintain a tranquil atmosphere inside. To cut into that wall, especially from Prospect, opens up the cemetery in a way it was not designed to be and thus ruins that atmosphere. The enclosure of Grove Street is a "denkmal" or monument, just as the grave stones are, and should be treated as such.

    Quoting from the following document (see page 11): http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/97000830.pdf

    "Citing such precedents as the Muslim cemeteries of Turkey, Pere Lachaise (1803) in Paris and Mt. Auburn in Massachusetts, the committee recommended a high enclosure to provide a sense of seclusion and a much more dense and varied planting scheme to create a more natural environment."

    Thus, the design is intentional.

    Those in favor of altering Grove Street should realize that encroaching development is just as dangerous to cemeteries as abandonment, decay and vandalism.

    I think it's also important to remind people that Grove Street Cemetery is not owned by Yale University. And thus any attempt to change it would result in direct conflict with the Cemetery Association, the City of New Haven and The National Register of Historic Places.

  • anon

    #19 - Gfleece:

    In my opinion, your approach borders on the arbitrary and the absolutist and is not in the interest of New Haven, Yale or the Grove Street cemetery.

    Citing as you do to other nice cemeteries with walls does not demonstrate that replacing some of Grove Street Cemetery's walls with wrought iron fencing would compromise the cemetery’s integrity, still less that adding another gate would be intolerable. Some nice cemeteries have walls. And some have fences. No wall was intended to surround the Grove Street site when the New Haven burial grounds and many of its grave markers were moved to Grove Street Cemetery from the church yard on the Green. The wall was added later and "disturbed" the original vision of the cemetery, which had a simple wooden fence. For that matter, a significant part of the cemetery is bordered by wrought iron fence, not wall, even now. You say that "Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan is a poor example if you're looking for comparable cemeteries with Grove Street, as it is located within a churchyard." This as a distinction without a substantial difference. The nearby presence of Trinity Church isn't what preserves the unquestionable serenity and dignity of Trinity Church cemetery, qualities shared by many urban cemeteries around the country without walls or churches.

    Your belief that "it's also important to remind people that Grove Street Cemetery is not owned by Yale University" is frankly odd to me, and seems intentionally and inappropriately coy. If it is important to “remind people” in this way, your goal can be fully accomplished by putting a few signs to that effect. Somehow, I don't think that would satisfy you, because you seem to hold a much more extreme belief than what you (dare to?) write: That the University's needs should not be taken into account with respect to the cemetery. Yale is a very important stakeholder in the cemetery, and Yale and New Haven increasingly recognize that in many ways they share a common bond and future and should work together to address each other’s needs where possible. That's why, for example, the City recently agreed to turn over to the University several City streets adjacent to the cemetery to facilitate the construction of the two new residential colleges in exchange for University investment in City parks. New Haven residents and the Yale community are all better off that elected New Haven officials did not believe that "it's also important to remind people that New Haven city streets are not owned by Yale University."

  • Gfleece

    To #20:

    The statement of fact, with regards to the ownership and control of Grove Street Cemetery, is not an attempt to be coy. Grove Street has been controlled as a private, non-sectarian corporation since 1796 (a year before the cemetery was incorporated). And just as the City of New Haven cannot dictate terms to Yale, neither can Yale dictate terms to the cemetery.

    That is not to say that negotiations cannot and should not happen, but I seriously doubt that the cemetery leadership would voluntary allow Yale to "drastically alter a historically protected part of New Haven" (as quoted by Staff Reporter Paul Needham).

    Further, the quote provided by me from the National Park Service is not an attempt to "[cite] other nice cemeteries with walls." Rather, it is being used to show original intent, which is extremely important with regards to historical preservation of culturally important sites. The original intent of the 1848/9 wall is to shelter the cemetery from the surround streets to provide "a sense of seclusion and a much more dense and varied planting scheme to create a more natural environment". It is not, as you say, a disturbing of "the original vision" for the cemetery. The wooden fence which original encircled the cemetery rotted away, thus replacement in 1848 was a necessity, not an undesired modification.

    Also, your statement that "a significant part of the cemetery is bordered by wrought iron fence" is inaccurate. Grove Street Cemetery is encircled by the brownstone wall on four of its five sides. Only Grove Street itself has a cast iron-picket fence, and this is because it is the entrance to the cemetery (and already has the large gate).

    Thus, coming back to the idea of original intent, the purpose of the eight foot tall wall is to encircle the cemetery and protect it, both physically and esthetically, from the surrounding street traffic. It is an inaccuracy, after all, to assume that the area surrounding the cemetery was vacant until Yale purchased the property. Prospect St., Canal and Lock were very busy streets in the mid-19th century.

    Thus, the desire of many here to turn the cemetery into a segue between central campus and the future colleges runs contrary to why the wall was put there in the first place. And it is this that is the focus of my statements.

  • Fern

    Gfleece rather selectively quotes from the National Historic Landmark Nomination for Grove Street Cemetery. For example, the paragraph from which Gfleece's quote is taken begins:

    “By the 1830s the cemetery was in need of refurbishment. The city had grown up around the property, and the original wooden fence and gate were insufficient to keep out ‘the idle, the thoughtless, and the vicious.’”

    A wrought iron fence like the one that today borders most of Grove Street that is sufficient to keep out “the idle, the thoughtless, and the vicious” would seem to satisfy such expressed desires.

    Gfleece also misleadingly suggests that it is only the Nineteenth Century work that makes Grove Street Cemetery “unique.” But the Nomination notes that it was the work of the original builders that Timothy Dwight judged "altogether a singularity in the world" that astounded American and foreign visitors alike. The Nomination also leaves no doubt that the Mid-Nineteenth Century renovations respected some elements of those original tastes and intentions but replaced others with “a more sentimental, Romantic emphasis.” It’s interesting to read in the Nomination about just how profoundly different the tastes of those mid-Nineteenth Century renovators were from those of the original Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century builders of the cemetery. In my view, such later modifications were no sin, certainly not in practical New England, where the needs and tastes of the living were – and today, should be - of determining significance. But after reading in the Nomination of how much esteem the original Grove Street Cemetery was then held in, I can’t imagine how anyone in the mid-Nineteenth Century holding to the views Gfleece expresses above could possibly have consented to the mid-Nineteenth Century work he adores today.

  • J. Watkins

    As one of the truly peaceful places near the Yale Campus, the Grove Street Cemetary should be left completely alone. Changing the wall in any manner would drastically change and desecrate the cemetary. Let the dead rest in peace, and let those who visit the cemetary have the privacy and seclusion the sacred space deserves.

  • Gfleece

    To #22 (Fern), please see my comments in #21. While intended to address Anon's comments in #20, they do address your criticisms of my statements. We posted at the same time. Thanks.

  • anon # 20

    Gfleece -

    Your assertion that your argument that "people" should be reminded that Yale doesn't own the cemetery is just a "statement of fact" is absurd, even disingenuous. It was transparently an argument that Yale's interest in modifying the cemetery should be denied, even ignored - anything but a "statement of fact". Your mischaracterization of your original statement and intent is even more inappropriately coy than the statement itself!

    Your suggestion that Yale is attempting to, or that there is any evidence that Yale might, "dictate terms to the cemetery" is unsupportable. Nobody at or on behalf of Yale has attempted any such thing, or would. Contrary to what you now say, your absolutist approach quite clearly implies that meaningful "negotiations cannot and should not happen" with respect to the cemetery: There's simply nothing to negotiate if your position is accepted! It's strange that you would deny your approach after your forceful presentation. In any event, the recent pattern of reasonable interactions between the City and the University fortunately suggests that you are wrong, and that a deal could be negotiated to everyone's benefit. New Haven would benefit from a careful opening of the cemetery, provided sufficient security and protection of its contents could be assured without imposing a drain on City resources - something the University might well offer to pay for or provide. The University might also agree to pay for whatever modifications of the cemetery to which the City might agree, just as Yale agreed to pay for City parks improvements in return for the City streets it has received to build the new colleges. There is much room for mutually beneficial negotiation provided neither side becomes as absolutist or arbitrary as you are urging.

    The Mid-Nineteenth Century renovators’ intent to shelter the cemetery from the surrounding streets was effected by them along Grove Street with a wrought iron fence. There is no reason to think that similar stretches of wrought iron fencing along Prospect Street would not do as well there as along Grove Street. Your claim that the Grove Street boundary of the Grove Street Cemetery is not a "significant" part of the total cemetery border really needs no rebuttal; the name of the cemetery is enough. The location of the cemetery’s sole gate on Grove Street attests to the significance the Mid-Nineteenth Century renovators ascribed to that part of the border. But it is also worth noting that Grove Street is by far the busiest and most significant side of the cemetery – as it was in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Yet Grove Street was the side left open, indicating that the renovators were confident that the wrought iron fence would protect the intended atmosphere within.

    The Nomination is very clear that the Mid-Nineteenth Century renovators intentionally discarded much of the original vision for the cemetery (that is, the vision of the cemetery’s Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century creators). As Fern ably points out above, the Nomination notes that in important respect with “a more sentimental, Romantic emphasis” was adopted by the Mid-Nineteenth Century renovators.

    You also say: "The wooden fence which original encircled the cemetery rotted away, thus replacement in 1848 was a necessity, not an undesired modification." This is wrong on both counts: Replacement of the fence by the current wall-and-fence enclosure was neither a necessity nor an undesired modification as far the Mid-Nineteenth Century renovators were concerned. It was not a "necessity" because they were perfectly capable of replacing the rotten wooden with a new one just like it, but (as Fern points out) they felt that “the original wooden fence and gate were insufficient to keep out ‘the idle, the thoughtless, and the vicious” and desired a modified "more sentimental, Romantic emphasis,” in important respects quite different from the original intent (that is, the intent of the cemetery's original builders that Timothy Dwight had so admired).

    You provide no support whatsoever that "Grove Street … has a cast iron-picket fence … because it is the entrance to the cemetery (and already has the large gate)." On what basis do you make this assertion?

    Your claim that "It is an inaccuracy, after all, to assume that the area surrounding the cemetery was vacant until Yale purchased the property" is a non sequator. Nobody to my knowledge has made any such claim in connection with Professor Scully’s suggestions. You appear to be arguing here against demons of your own mind.

    I completely agree with Fern's points, which, despite your assertion to the contrary in #24, you have not addressed in any material regard. You owe her more.

  • Gfleece

    Anon –

    I've enjoyed our discussion regarding Grove Street Cemetery, but I find it rather odd that you must consistently attempt to impugn my intent. Grove Street is owned by a private body. And if Yale wishes to make the cemetery a cut-through for students, faculty and staff, then they will have to deal with that private body. There is no attempt on my part to be insincere. Rather, it is your posts which I find to be intentionally misleading.

    My position is simple and easily identifiable – the cemetery is a cemetery. It's unique and documented as a historical landmark. It was not designed for people to cut through it and circumnavigating the cemetery is not a recent issue, which I highlighted in the point which you incorrectly labeled a non sequitur. If Yale wishes to provide for better access across the Prospect district, my position is that they must find other means to do so and leave the 160 year old wall untouched. I feel strongly about these points because, being a native New Havener, I consider Grove Street to be a cultural treasure.

    Your position on things, however, is not as clear. Yes, you disagree with everything I post. And yes, this debate is interesting. But I "owe" neither you nor Fern anything. I have no desire to debate you line by line because you have access to the same information that I do.

    If your sole objection to leaving the cemetery alone stems from the fact that it is in your way, than my recommendation is that you (like Yale) find a way around it. I too have to walk the perimeter of the cemetery daily. And when I'm running late, it can be frustrating. But I'll sacrifice the extra 10 minutes if it means that New Haven can retain the architecture and grounds in their current state.

    Having said this, I am perfectly fine to leave this issue for other posters who may have less "demons" than I do. Let other readers of this page go over our posts and decide for themselves which argument is the better of the two. I have confidence in mine.

  • Gfleece

    One last thought before I close:

    You are accusing me of cherry picking data – neglecting the 18th century cemetery at the price of the 19th century. In actuality, I'm focusing on the 19th century since the primary issue here is in regards to the 1848/9 wall. Instead, it is both Fern and yourself that are in fact guilty of jumps in logic.

    In order to counter my arguments, you are using Timothy Dwight's "altogether a singularity in the world" statement (circa 1790s) and then infer what he and his contemporaries would think had he seen the 19th century changes. And despite the fact that Dwight, for example, died 31 years before the brownstone wall was even conceived of, let alone erected, you and Fern infer that he and others would not be happy.

    Because of this, you then infer that Yale should feel justified to attempt to modify the wall as they see fit. This is a true non sequitur.

    There are many things within modern New Haven that Timothy Dwight and his contemporaries would have not have approved of. Does that make these things any less important today? But since we're going down this logical pitfall, let me pose a question: what would Timothy Dwight think about Yale students using the cemetery as a cut-through? My guess is that, being a evangelical "New Divinity" minister, he would not be very pleased. But that's a non-sequitur to, one I readily admit to – how do I know what he'd think? Thus, the faulty logic in this entire line of reasoning.

    In the end, none of your arguments change the fact that the entire cemetery is recognized by the National Park Services as a National Historic Landmark. And personally, when dealing with matters regarding to the current Grove Street Cemetery and its preservation, I take their opinions as holding much more weight.

    Having said that, I thank both of you for this discussion.