Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Email Updates

You can now get news and updates from Albany Rural Cemetery via e-mail.  In addition to our expanded social media presence and printed newsletter, we now have an email newsletter.  Click the link to read our first issue and to subscribe.

Albany Rural Cemetery E-mail Newsletter - August 2018

Friday, July 13, 2018

Concert At Cypress Pond

Albany Rural Cemetery will be hosting the Colonie Town Band for a concert on Monday, August 6.  The concert will be held at the historic Cypress Pond and is free.  Please bring your own chairs and feel free to pack a small picnic.

It's also a chance to see the new fountain that was installed in the historic pond which was featured in the current issue of our Friends newsletter (if you aren't a member of the Friends of Albany Rural Cemetery yet and would like to join, we will have an information table where you can pick up a membership form).

Also, if you'd like to volunteer for this or any other Cemetery events, please email me at albanyrural1@gmail.com

Friday, June 29, 2018


In case you missed it - last week, CBS6 visited the Cemetery to chat with us about our history and how we're sharing it with tours and events.

The segment is now online and can be see here:

CBS6 Positively Upstate - The History of Albany Rural Cemetery

Our current events can be found on our Facebook page, but I'll add a full list here soon (we're still adding to the list).

And we are now on Twitter - follow us at @AlbanyRural

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Women' History Tour (And More)

There is still time to register for the June 16 Women's History Tour!  This walk along the Cemetery' old Middle Ridge and South Ridge will visit the graves of Revolutionary War poets, Quaker abolitionists, the first woman to be admitted to the New York State Bar, and more. It will start from the Chapel and is this year's NYS Path Through History event.

Registration Information:

Because the walk will include hills and unpaved paths, attendees are asked to wear sensible shoes and bring bug spray.  The tour will begin at the Chapel.

The tour is Saturday, June 16 at 10:30 am. Tickets are $15 and space is limited. Email albanyrural1@gmail.com or call the office a 518-463-7017 to register.

There are quite a few tours and events scheduled this year - a full calendar will be posted here soon.  Also, restoration work continues at Cypress Pond. 

If you are a member of the Friends of Albany Rural Cemetery, you will have noticed that our newsletter is now being published monthly.  If you are not a member, please join - we are working very hard to bring you interesting content.  A printable copy of the membership form is available here or just stop by our office.

And, because of increased events, we are looking for volunteers.  If you are interested, you can pick up a volunteer application form at the office or download one here.  Or just email albanyrural1@gmail.com with "Volunteer" in the subject line.

There is much more news, but that's for the next post.

P.S.  - I am now a full time member of the office staff at Albany Rural.  If you stop by the office Monday through Friday, please say hello! - Paula

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

An Historic Tour of The Cemetery

On May 18th, the Albany Rural Cemetery and the Historical Society of the Town of Colonie will hold a special evening tour featuring first person presentations of a dozen of the Cemetery's "permanent residents." 

Details about the tour can be found on our Facebook Event page and registration information will be be posted very soon.

Other tours are in the planning stages so, please, keep an eye on Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond The Graves for dates and information.   The annual Audubon Bird Walk will be held on April 21s - details can be found here

Also, there is a new Instagram for the Cemetery - please follow historicalbanyruralcemetery

The latest issue of the newsletter is arriving in mailboxes now.  If you'd like to receive it, please join the Friends of the Albany Rural Cemetery.  You can print a membership form here to mail or drop off at the Cemetery office during business hours.  It will be changing to a monthly format and there is information on changes to Friends membership. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Announcement Time

Those of you who follow Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond The Graves or my personal profile on Facebook will have already read this, but for those of you who haven't not yet seen the news, I'm very happy to announce that I am now working as a consulting historian for the Cemetery.

This is something I've wanted to do for quite some time now (it's almost a cliche to call it a "dream job," but that's exactly what it is) and I'm so glad that it's now official.

Posts will continue here and on Facebook and on a new Instagram - historicalbanyruralcemetery (if you use IG, please feel free to follow this new account as well as my regular account since I do post about A.R.C. and Albany history at the latter, too).

I already have several projects lined up which I'll share as they fall into place, including tours and other events.

Also, if you haven't seen the current issue of the Friends of the Albany Rural Cemetery newsletter, stop by the office and pick up a copy for my article on the Van Rensselaer tomb (and, don't forget to join the Friends - a printable form is here)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Restoration Work Needed on Cypress Pond

“At the west, a short distance below, is a pear-shaped bit of silver, known as Cypress Water, in which is  a miniature island.”

(from "The Albany Hand-book for 1881" by Henry Pitt Phelps)

One of the most recognizable features of the Cemetery landscape, Cypress Pond (or Cypress Waters, as it was more commonly known in the past) turns 148 years old this year.  Among the monuments that overlook this pretty "bit of silver" are the bronze statue of "Contemplation" by Charles Calverley atop the grave of Dr. Jephta Bouleware, the pensive maiden marking the family plot of author Charles Fort, and one of the most photographed statues at Albany Rural - the John G. Myers angel.  Seven of the Cemetery's many roads and paths converge here.

The centerpiece of the South Ridge, if not the entire Rural Cemetery, Cypress Pond was created from a swampy patch of land dotted with natural springs.  A large stone slab covering the outlet at the north end of the pond bears the date of its creation, 1869.  The work was undertaken during the tenure of Superintendent J.P. Thomas who was known for numerous changes and improvements to the Cemetery, including the extension of the grounds to the South Gate.  While a small pond does appear on Cemetery maps from the late 1850s, this area of the Cemetery was, for the most part, a swampy area dotted with natural springs.

 And what's in a name? The cypress is a tree long associated with cemeteries and can be found growing in many burying grounds. It has been a symbol of mourning since ancient times because, if cut back too much, the tree will not regrow. Its branches were gifted to grieving families in Athens and it was burned to clear the harsh odors of cremations. The trees have also been planted in great numbers in Turkish cemeteries for centuries

Early photos of Cypress Waters show the little island which formerly occupied the middle of the pond.  Some of the earliest views even show a little canoe near the island.  The wooded island was later replaced with a classically-styled fountain installed in 1950.

Unfortunately, Cypress Pond is now in urgent need of repair.  The fountain which replaced the little island has not functioned in several years.  Several sinkholes near the newly repaired shelter at the northeast corner of the pond required work.  The pond walls are unstable and tilting inward towards the water.

Work is being done in phases and, to date, the Cemetery has financed $21,115 towards these much needed repairs.  The final two phases of the project - replacement and reactivation of the fountain and the stabilization of the pond walls will require additional funds.

The fountain runs on water pressure from a gravity-fed reservoir.  It will be converted to an electrical source with a new floating aerating fountain similar to those seen in Washington Park, Buckingham Pond, and The Crossings in Colonie.  The work will included electricity and working water outlets in the areas around the pond.  The engineering work and design are completed and the project is now awaiting funding.

The buckling pond walls are hazardous, especially since the area immediately around the pond is a popular place for visitors to park and walk.

A more detailed illustrated report on the work to be done and funds needed can be downloaded here:  Cypress Pond Restoration Report PDF

If you would like to make a donation of any size to help complete the badly-needed repairs to the fountain and pond walls, please make a check or money order out to:

Albany Rural Cemetery
Cemetery Avenue
Menands, New York 12204

Please include a memo that the donation is for "Restoration of The Cypress Pond Area."  Or contact the Cemetery directly at  518-463-7017 or albanyruralcemetery@biznycap.rr.com with questions or to discuss other donation options.  You can also stop by the office during business hours.  Donations are tax-deductible.

And, please, share and spread the word.  This post (with additional historic images of the pond) will also be available on Facebook at Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond Graves (it will be pinned to make it easy to find) and on Twitter.