Democracy – Rock Creek Cemetery

Rock Creek Cemetery

Official Website

Location: Rock Creek Church Road and Webster Street, N.W., Washington D.C>

Built/Founded 1719

Governing body:  St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish

Added to NRHP:  August 12, 1977

Rock Creek Cemetery with a natural rolling landscape located at Rock Creek Church Road, NW, and Webster Street, NW, in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It is adjacent to the historic Soldiers’ Home and to the Soldiers’ Home Cemetery.

Established in 1719, Rock Creek was designed as part of the rural garden style to function as both cemetery and public park. It is a ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish.

Rock Creek Cemetery’s park-like setting has many notable mausoleums and tombstones. The best known is Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White‘s Adams Memorial, a contemplative androgynous bronze sculpture seated before a block of granite. It marks the graves of Clover Hooper Adams and her husband, Henry Adams, and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Grief. Saint-Gaudens called it The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding.

Other notable memorials include the Frederic Keep Monument, the Heurich Mausoleum, the Hitt Monument, the Hardon Monument, the Kauffman Monument, known as The Seven Ages of Memory, the Sherwood Mausoleum Door, and the Thompson-Harding Monument.

On August 12, 1977, Rock Creek Cemetery and the adjacent church grounds were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

National Register listing

  • Rock Creek Church Yard and Cemetery (added 1977 – Site – #77001498)
  • Also known as See Also:Adams Memorial
  • Webster St. and Rock Creek Church Rd., NW., Washington
  • Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering, Information Potential
  • Architectural Style: Gothic Revival
  • Area of Significance: Architecture, Social History, Art, Historic – Non-Aboriginal, Landscape Architecture
  • Cultural Affiliation: American
  • Period of Significance: 1700–1749, 1750–1799, 1800–1824, 1825–1849, 1850–1874, 1875–1899, 1900–1924
  • Owner: Private
  • Historic Function: Funerary, Religion
  • Historic Sub-function: Cemetery, Religious Structure

Gravesite of Emile Berliner and family members

Gravesite of Oliver Hudson Kelley

Gravesite of George Washington Riggs

The burial ground in the church yard’s urban space, with its natural rolling landscape, was designed as part of the rural cemetery movement to function as both cemetery and public park.   This beautiful park-like setting is now a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world, who come to see the remarkable variety of monuments and sculptures and often to visit the renowned Adams memorial.

Rock Creek serves as the final resting place to some of Washington’s most notable residents including Abraham Baldwin (Signer of the U.S. Constitution), Montgomery Blair (Postmaster General in Lincoln’s Cabinet), Charles Corby (Baking Innovator “Wonderbread”), Julius Garfinckel (Founder, Garfinckel’s Department Store), Gilbert H. Grosvenor (Chairman, National Geographic Society), Patricia Roberts Harris (Secretary Health/Human Services in Carter’s Cabinet) Alice Roosevelt Longworth (President’s Daughter), George Washington Riggs (Founder of Riggs Bank), Harlon Fiske Stone (Chief Justice of the U.S.), and Sumner Welles (Under Secretary of State for FDR).  Rock Creek Cemetery also serves as a local resource of history and art, including notable sculptures such as the Adams Memorial by Augustus St. Gaudens.


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