The Eastern Cemetery of Portland, Maine is the city’s oldest significant cemetery. With nearly 5000 marked graves dating back as early as 1718, interred in the Eastern Cemetery are some of the most influential people of Portland’s long history. The graves within the cemetery have experienced various states of wear over the site’s long life, but the cemetery is nonetheless much loved for its view of wide-open New England skies and the Greater Casco Bay. The last known burial was sometime in the late 1860s, though the cemetery has been open to the public for the entirety of the lifetime for respite and serenity.
Cemetery is framed by Congress, Mountfort, Federal, and India Street
overlooking Portland Harbor and the Greater Casco Bay. Having been established in 1668, it belonged
to the territory of Falmouth before Portland had even been founded as a city. While the Town of Portland was founded in
1786, the first recorded burial in the Eastern Cemetery was in 1718. Earlier burials clearly occurred, but no
records were made or have yet been located of them.
Many of the
graves are very simple. Those which
contain carvings have few hints to the artisans who may have crafted them. Only a handful of graves have been attributed
authors. Unfortunately, the oldest
section of the cemetery has been the least well preserved. Many monuments have been damaged or defaced,
and much historically relevant information has been lost from this section.
years, various local groups have undertaken care of the cemetery, though its
care has improved since its placement on the National Register of Historic
Places. In the documentation for the
location a group known as the Longfellow Garden Club is credited with extensive
attempts to restore the Eastern Cemetery to a better state. As a result of restoration efforts, a number
of new trees have been planted within the grounds. While once known for its ancient elms and
cedars, only one of each tree remains, colossal reminders of what once was.