The Forgotten Cemetery at Home Depot

The Jericho Turnpike, cutting east-west through Long Island, is pretty much a wasteland of strip malls, corporate office parks, and fast food chains…

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…and the last place you’d expect to find anything of historical or cultural value is in the parking lot of a Home Depot.

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I think that’s what makes this place so great.

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Surrounded on all four sides by the Home Depot parking lot (also servicing the adjacent Modell’s and Old Navy), is this grouping of trees surrounded by a chain link fence…And if you actually take the time to look closer…

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You’ll find what has to be the only 19th-century graveyard in the United States located in a Home Depot parking lot.

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I first read about this on the excellent roadside Americana website, RoadsideAmerica.com, a few years ago, but only had the chance to see it for myself the other day…

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“Surreal” is really the only word you can use to describe looking at graves of guys who died in the 1850’s…while a Home Depot shopper pushes his orange cart to his truck in the background.

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This was once the family cemetery for the Burr Family, who first came to the United States in 1630 and arrived in Long Island in 1656, situating their family farm on land now owned by Home Depot. The cemetery was in use until about 1880. You can see it just below the purple dot:

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It blows my mind that this has somehow survived, the only indicator that the area was once all farmland, and harkening back to a time when families might bury their dead on their own property.

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This might be due to the fact that the farmland became an airfield during World War I, known as Brindley Field. Perhaps it was given special treatment during that time?

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Though it’s in pretty bad shape, recent flag plantings show that someone still cares about the cemetery:

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I really, really hope that Home Depot has a ghost problem.

-SCOUT

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36 comments

  1. What a fabulous thing! Thanks for posting photos. It always seems a crime to me, to see “civilization” encroaching on historical spots like that. I second your haunted-Home-Depot hopes.

  2. This reminds me of the cemetery located in the parking lot of Palisades Center in West Nyack, NY. I remember when the mall was being built it was a bit of a controversy – other than the fact that the mall is sinking and was built on top of a landfill, the cemetary next to the parking garage is for Native Americans and “other colored people” who fought in a host of American Wars. I think a lot of people were both really offended and really superstitious about the mall being built basically on top of and surrounding such an historic site.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palisades_Center

  3. I was just there taking pics last weekend. Bizarre but neat, isn’t it? There is also the grave of Mary Ellis in a Lowes theater lot in, not too far away, New Brunswick, NJ.

    I was excited to see a scouting post for Long Island! Love your site!

  4. I was going to mention the Mary Ellis grave, too. It’s believed it may have been an inspiration for the song “Brandy” by The Looking Glass: http://www.weirdnj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=49&Itemid=28

  5. Hi, I’ve just joined your website and really am enjoying it, but I am amazed that that is the only 19th C graveyard in the USA.

  6. Amanda,

    “…located in a Home Depot parking lot.” It most certainly is not the only 19th century graveyard in the US. :) That’s my favorite cemetery “era” to go exploring! Victorians have the prettiest graves sometimes.

  7. Wow! I go to that Home Depot all the time and never noticed the cemetery before. Crazy.

  8. In SC there is a cemetery in the median of I85 near Gaffney. It was there when they decided to split the highway and it ended up in the middle.

    In Albany NY there is one right near the highway in a cleared field. The only trees are around the fence and flag.

  9. There was a gravesite on the Grumman property, too. Grumman took care of it and kept it in good shape. I had always assumed that taking care of the graveyard was part of the contract when the land was purchased. This plot also looks tended, so I suspect there was a similar clause when the developer was looking for a site to develop.

  10. Reminds me of my college–the large student parking lot by our football field had a graveyard in the middle of it, where the family that the school bought the property from was buried. It was surrounded by a fairly high stone wall, and half the time students wouldn’t even notice it–it was always a fun conversation starter (“So, did you notice the graveyard on your way to the game?”).

  11. Really not sure how anyone who goes there could miss it. I am 33 and I saw knew it was there for as long as I can remember. Seriously, it isn’t THAT hard to miss.

  12. The Crowley family cemetery in Avondale Estates, Georgia was once farmland, but the area around the cemetery was graded in the 60’s to make way for one of the first Atlanta area malls. The mall was subsequently demolished and a Wal-Mart went up, but the Crowley graves are still there, largely forgotten and neglected.

  13. I live in the area and there are many like this including another about a mile away at the end of Scholar Road when it hits Old Commack Road. The family name on the headstones is Seamen.

  14. I grew up not far from there when the entire shopping plaza belonged to Modells when they were a K-Mart type discount store and not just sporting goods (we used to buy our 45 records there.) We always wanted to get inside the chain link fence to look around but it was always locked. The Burr family was big in the neighborhood — Burr Road is only a 1/2 mile or so away, and there is a big Burr family mansion located on the road. Nice to see someone still cares about the local lore.

    • When I was a kid in the late 60s early 70s my parents would take me there shopping for everything. Modells had a little movie theater where my parents would drop me while they shopped. When they wanted me they’d just yell into the dark theater. No supervision!
      I remember we always tried to read the grave markers. It never phased me because Long Island is just so full of cemeteries.

  15. I actually think this is pretty cool. Yes, on one hand it is an example of a big box store overtaking all and perhaps a bit depressing. But this is also an example of honoring the dead and the history of an area. That cemetary will probably be there after the Home Depot is long gone. Heck, the cemetary probably gets many more visitors than if it were located in a tucked away field somewhere. The places we inhabit have long histories and it’s cool to be reminded of them.

  16. There’s a cemetery located between two runways at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), and it even gets some new burials.

  17. I just discovered your blog and have become a huge fan. I have never been to New York but I need to see some of these places before they are destroyed in favor of less aesthetically pleasing law offices.

  18. I’ve been there at least a dozen times and never noticed it. I noticed the trees but there are plenty of parking lots with trees. But I never noticed the graves. I’ll have to drive over there today.

  19. I used to live in Huntington and remember seeing this odd cemetery. Thanks for the cool article and pics.

  20. Where I grew up, in Orange County, there is a cemetery in the parking lot of the Woodbury Commons outlets. Everyone would always say they parked by the cemetery, but it took me awhile to realize there actually were graves there!

  21. Love it! I go there a lot .. but i resent you call Long Island a wasteland! lol

  22. Mamaroneck High School (in Westchester) has a cemetery on its property too. It should date easily to the 19th century or maybe farther back.

    If you’re looking for a unique site to scout I highly recommend Walter’s Hot Dogs (across the street from Mamaroneck High School). Basically its a hot dog stand in a chinese themed building dating back to the 1920’s. (They serve an excellent hot dog as well).

    • H, where on the property of Mamaroneck High School is it? I grew up there and never knew that. Walters is beautiful for a hot dog stand. There are a few forgotten cemeteries in Westchester especially the Mamaroneck area.

  23. I grew up in this town and used to ride my bike to Modell’s all the time, back when it was still a department store. I’d often stop to stare at the headstones in this cemetery while downing an Icee and shuffling through the baseball cards I’d just bought.

    Like another commenter mentioned, this is one of several such cemeteries in the area. Another, Brown Cemetery, is located about a mile (maybe less) away, on Burr Road, a stone’s throw from Burr Mansion. According to LongIslandGeneology.com, the headstones at Brown date back to the early 19th century:

    http://longislandgenealogy.com/BrownCem.html

  24. Casino plus Holdem poker both of them are Activities the places you will need Good fortune without it take a look at will probably get almost any Cent.

  25. Thanks for the infomation on Brown’s Cemetery. Visited New York back in May and found my great, great, great,great, grandfather’s gravestone there. His name was Daniel Brown and he died on Dec.13,1806. It was quite an experience to see his headstone that is over 200 years old.

  26. I grew up in Commack and went to en elementary school a short distance away from this cemetery. I remember taking a filed trip 40+ years ago to the cemetery to make rubbings of the headstones. It is a shame I didn’t keep them since those same stones have become unreadable from weathering.

  27. Nice job scouting this out. Make a 10 minute film on this and come up with a solution to make it better.
    I got one, shut down the Depot, create housing and use this cemetery as the nucleus of a village green.
    Oh one other thing, get Home depot to pay for everything since they f..ked up the neighborhood in the first place.

  28. Yes, it’s there albeit mapped wrong on the site. It’s actually the HD in Commack, not Jericho.

    A real treat is the Pratt Family cemetery in Glen Cove. It is amazing and reminds us that no matter how much money we have we can’t escape our final fate.

  29. Kevin Langerfeld

    I grew up in Farmingdale in the 60’s. There was an old cemetery just east of the L.I. RR. station right along side of the tracks, also one on Hempstead trnpk. just west of the seaford-osterbay expressway.

  30. Your map pushpin is in the wrong place. the cemetery is in Commack in Suffolk County, not around Jericho in Nassau. Fixing the map would be nice.

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  32. Grew up about a 1/4 mile away in mid 1960s this was ahuge pumpkin field up to 1965 when they started to clear the propety for Models shoppers world. The rediscovery of the cemetary was front page news for severel days. Articles about the Burr family(Burr road is right down the block on Larkfield) were published along with history as an air force air field. All very exciting to large tribes of pre adolescent kids on bikeswhich populated long island at that time.

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