Landscape Features and Monuments
Interesting landscape effects that include stones, gardens and ponds add a distinctive character to the Swan Point estate.
In 1978, Swan Point set the Megalith, what is believed to be the largest single stone erected in an American cemetery, in the midst of Memorial Grove.
When considering a central feature for this park-like grove of trees, Swan Point relied on its long association with boulders – like those used in the cemetery’s wall and entrance – to create a monument that would be in keeping with this natural setting.
This rustic gazebo is a replica of one dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Anthony by his wife, Sarah W. Anthony. Erected in 1885 near Benjamin Anthony’s burial lot, the shelter is a unique feature in the cemetery landscape, combining utility and comfort with novelty and beauty of design.
Hope Memorial Garden
The Hope Memorial Garden illustrates Swan Point’s attention to accommodating burial needs in modern yet visually and emotionally fulfilling settings. The focal point of the garden is a mixed-medium sculpture made by two triangular granite monoliths as a backdrop for an eighteenth century anchor recovered from Narragansett Bay. The anchor is a symbol of hope and the State of Rhode Island, whose flag and seal it graces.
The Boulder Wall
In 1894, using boulders excavated from the estate during road construction, landscaping and grave digging, a boulder wall was erected along the east side of Blackstone Boulevard, bounding the cemetery grounds. A new main entrance was established with two gates as well as pathways on either side. A massive boulder bearing the words “Swan Point Cemetery” in bronze letters sits between the two gates.
The Ravine is a naturally created crevice at the northeast side of the cemetery property which leads from Beach Avenue to the banks of the Seekonk River. Over the years, landscaping features have been added to this ravine including magnificent granite stairs leading from the top to the bottom. At one time, a rustic bridge was built over the Ravine. Various plants have been installed over the years so that the area has now become a naturalized garden feature.
A lovely elliptical garden originally planted with azaleas, rhododendrons and other woody blossoming shrubs, the Ellipse is located in Group 279. Burials were originally withheld from that area to allow for a decorative cemetery garden.
These are active burial sites located in two areas of the cemetery (Groups 233 and 421) that were designed to accommodate headstones similar to the slate headstones used during the colonial period.
The Dell on South Avenue was created in 1886, when an area of natural depression was excavated to form a small pond. Water was added in the form of a stream that cascaded down a rocky bed before tumbling into the pond below. The Dell was replanted in the late 1950’s with cotoneaster, pyracantha, azalea and leucothoe. It was closed for many years when the cost of city water became too expensive but has now been restored to its original beauty using well water for the fountain.
The Rock Pond
Established in 1878, the Rock Pond is a manmade pond located in the center of the cemetery. Its central feature is a dramatic boulder with a stream of water cascading from the center of the boulder. Attractively landscaped, the pond was always intended to be a place of contemplation and rest for those visiting the cemetery. Given its prominent location in the cemetery, there are a number of private family mausoleums built within view of the pond.
Naturalistic landscape features have been an important component of the cemetery’s design since its inception. Rising southwest from Forest Avenue up the hill capped by Ridge Way, Forty Steps is framed by laurel and rhododendron plants and surrounded by tall oak and maple trees. The appeal of this landscape feature is enhanced by understanding the unobtrusiveness of its highly calculated design.