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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 35-A Forest Lawn Cemetery (1996)

35-A Forest Lawn Cemetery (1996)

Narrative by - David M. Rote
(Narratives are copyrighted)

When Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to plan a park system for the city of Buffalo in the 1860’s, he was more than fortunate to have a significant example of local landscape architecture to draw upon - Forest Lawn Cemetery. The fact that Olmsted’s Delaware Park includes common borders with the cemetery was by design, capitalizing on existing open spaces and the shared feature of Scajaquada Creek.

Scenic Forest Lawn, officially incorporated as the Buffalo City Cemetery, is home to Buffalo’s only natural waterfall (Serenity Falls) - where Scajaquada Creek crosses the Onondaga Escarpment. The cemetery is also a magnificent arboretum with a host of trees and shrubs representing many species. “Warbler Ridge,” above beautiful Mirror Lake, has long been a mecca for observation of migrating birds and a number of prominent Buffalo ornithologists are buried along the crest of the ridge.

Judge Erastus Granger, Buffalo’s first postmaster, was an early owner of this land (1806) and after his death, the family sold some 80 acres of the property for use as a cemetery. The first interment was on July 12, 1850. Shortly after, all the interments at Buffalo’s first cemetery at Franklin Square (see 31-A) were re-interred at Forest Lawn.

Victorian funerary art and mausoleum architecture may be viewed throughout the cemetery’s 267 acres and the work of internationally-known architects and sculptors are well represented. Forest Lawn is appropriately enrolled on both State and National Registers of Historic Places. The cemetery is the final resting place of Buffalonians from all walks of life - from a United States president and many Buffalo mayors to leaders of the industrial and commercial communities to average hardworking laymen and their families, representing a panacea of ethnic backgrounds.

The majestic monument rendered here in watercolor was designed by architect Henry Osgood Holland and comprises the Main Street entrance to the cemetery at the corner of Delevan Avenue and is in the form of a Roman triumphal arch, symbolically representing the eternal hope that “death be swallowed up in victory.” The arch, complete with supporting lodges, was officially dedicated in 1901 and was an often-visited site by patrons from the nearby Pan-American Exposition grounds.