Tearing down Grove Street Cemetery walls will eliminate no-man’s land

To the Editor:

Vincent Scully is exactly right: The high stone walls surrounding the Grove Street Cemetery should be torn down and replaced with a wrought-iron fence (“To Grove Street Cemetery: Tear down that wall,” 4/4).

My office is in Brewster Hall, on Prospect Street in the middle of the area designated for the two new residential colleges. For more than 30 years, as I have trudged back and forth between the central campus and Brewster; I have experienced first hand the barrenness, bleak cityscape and wind-tunnel effects created by the high cemetery wall along Prospect.

The Malone Center on the east side of Prospect is an elegant addition to the street. But the west side of Prospect is still dead space and will remain so until the Friends of the Grove Street Cemetery, which controls the cemetery, realizes it has an obligation not only to the departed inhabitants but to the live souls who walk by every day.

There’s no need to add a second gate on the north side or to otherwise facilitate people walking through or congregating in the cemetery; after all, it is a cemetery. But replacing the high stone walls with a wrought-iron fence would make Prospect a much more attractive walkway and greatly reduce the sense of having to traverse a no-man’s land to get from the central campus area to the site of the new colleges.

David Cameron

April 4

The writer is a professor of political science at Yale.


  • Anonymous

    bravo, prof. cameron. it's time to bring down that wall.

  • DesignNewHaven

    Discussion continues here:

    "I think a more realistic proposal to moving the cemetery out of town entirely would be to move parts of it in order to add streets through the site, and cover parts of it in order to accommodate more urban uses (such as high-density housing and retail), creating a crypt underneath."

  • Alum69

    The Friends of the Grove Street Cemetery owe you and Yale nothing. The cemetery is there as a final resting place for many city residents. It is not there to serve as "eye candy" for Yale, its faculty or students. How arrogant can you be to demand a historical resting place be destroyed for your personal gratification. Yet another sterling example of the Yale mentality regarding our host city. And we wonder why the residents despise us.

  • Robin Hood


    That is all I can say, the Grove Street Cemetary is one of a kind and has so much history, and you would destroy it for your own self gain?

    Typicle self centered human,

    Don't you know, that cenetary will be standing long after you are dust and inconsequential.

    A move like that would probably be called "progress"?

  • Robin Hood

    I should mention that some of my family is buried there and I appreciate the security those walls provide.

    I am Courtlandt Van Rensselaer Creed's great great grandson. In fact Yale gave him a new headstone last year and a Sesquicentenial Celebration for three days.

    Of the family members buried there are some notables.

    Prince Duplex Jr was an activist in the Abolitionism movement and a leader in the African United Ecclesiastical Society which became the Temple Street Church. His father Prince Duplex gained his freedom by fighting in the Revolution and wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge. Prince sr is buried in NY.

    Another of sr's children was Vashti Duplex, a member and activist along with her brother and New Havens first African American School teacher.

    She married John Creed, who came from St Croix, became an activist in the same church, worked at Yale, and while making speeches at rallies for freedom met Courtlandt Van Rensselaer, who was a missionary for slaves. He and Woolsey befriended the Creeds.

    John and Vashti had a son and named him Courtlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, after their friend.

    Courtlandt attended the Lancasterian School and was admitted to Yale School of Medicine, he and his family had attended some events that featured Frederick Douglas and they had some correspondence.

    The rest is on his stone, he was the first African American to graduate Yale School of Medicine as an MD and the first to graduate any Ivy League School.

    He was in the Civil War as a Surgeon, was consulted on how to remove President Garfields bullet and used forensics to help solve the murder of two women in New Haven which is depicted in the book "Arsenic Under the Elms".