Hazel Path Woodland Sanctuary

April 5, 2019
Rendering of Hazel Path Woodland Sanctuary by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Hazel Path, which traverses the steep, east-facing slope just below Washington Tower, is now being transformed into a “woodland sanctuary” that connects the Consecration Dell woodland to the wildflower meadow surrounding the Tower. This exciting project continues our efforts to develop new burial space in a way that preserves and enhances our historic landscape.


As part of this project, Hazel Path has been regraded to more closely resemble its 19th-century footprint and to accommodate new cremation burial space for approximately 400 individuals. Locally-sourced boulders have been installed along the renovated path, appearing as though they have always been there. A selection of these boulders will serve as private family monuments for those choosing burial space in this new area. New obelisks along the path will additional space for memorial inscriptions. A diverse mix of shrubs and herbaceous groundcovers will enhance the woodland setting and help to frame the spectacular views of the Boston skyline visible from the Path.

We are pleased to be working with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) on this exciting project. After our great experience working with MVVA on the renovation of Harvard Hill—just below the Tower at the foot of Hazel Path—it was a natural extension of that work to move up the hill. We are also pleased to be working once again with RP Marzilli & Co. on the installation, after our successful collaboration on the renovation of Asa Gray Garden.

Every effort will be made to maintain access to Washington Tower for the majority of this project.  Access to Mountain Avenue may be temporarily restricted to accommodate delivery of project materials.

For the past 25 years, the staff and Trustees of Mount Auburn Cemetery have been following the guiding principles of the 1993 Master Plan, which were intended to ensure a strong future for Mount Auburn as both an active cemetery and a vibrant cultural institution. While many refinements to our goals and strategic vision have been made over the years in reaction to changes in societal attitudes toward death and other external pressures, one thing that has not changed is our commitment, articulated in the Master Plan, that “Preservation and enhancement of the landscape will come first in all future decisions regarding cemetery development.” That commitment has remained fast even as we have designed and implemented new interment space projects year after year. Our new crematory and expanded facilities at Bigelow Chapel have been designed to meet the needs of our community as the percentage of people choosing cremation continues to grow. Being able to meet the increasing demand for the burial of cremated remains and the memorialization of those interred will also be important to Mount Auburn’s future as an active cemetery. The Hazel Path development is an important part of that future.

In addition to providing new space for burial and commemoration, this project also supports our efforts to improve the wildlife habitat value of our landscape and furthers are initiative to become a model of environmental stewardship.

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