Reformed Church Cemetery

Reformed Church Cemetery

On one of our days off from work for Passover, we decided to take a day trip up to Beacon, NY. I've been to a few Hudson Valley towns—Cold Spring, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Beacon once, but just for a hike—but the actual town of Beacon had been on my list for a while. It's easily accessible by Metro North, although we opted to take a Zipcar to have more flexibility.

Our first stop was Dia: Beacon, an art museum that, as we found out the hard way, is closed on Wednesdays (and Tuesdays). After quickly moving through the stages of bewilderment, disbelief, annoyance, light anger (mostly at ourselves for not checking the hours in advance) and then acceptance, we found a diner on Main Street to get lunch and discuss an alternate plan for the day. It was raining pretty heavily, but I was intent on checking out an abandoned cemetery nearby. Luckily I am the world's slowest eater, so the rain had pretty much stopped by the time we left the diner and the sun came out as we arrived at the Reformed Church of Beacon.

The Victorian Gothic church—the oldest in Beacon—was built in 1859 but graves in the cemetery date from 1813 into the 20th century. Both the cemetery and church were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and while the church is still in use, the cemetery has definitely seen better days. In fact, everything that I read mentioned that the cemetery had exposed human remains in a few of the crumbling vaults, which turned out to be 100% true.

The cemetery doesn't look like it's been vandalized, so much as it has just been left to decay without proper maintenance and care. Several brick vaults are sitting wide open, as are the burial spaces inside of them. One article I read mentioned full skeletons, which were obviously there at some point, but now there are only a few bones in a few small piles scattered between the vaults. I was actually more scared of the tiny snake than I was of the bones, although the tiki idol that someone left behind added a nice extra layer of spookiness to the whole scene.

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I always have mixed feelings about abandoned spots. I'm excited to explore weird and decaying places, but cemeteries—especially ones with mishandled remains—are often sad. The state of this cemetery is even more perplexing considering the location (Beacon is a nice, popular town) and the fact that the church is still in use. The property isn't overwhelmingly large or overgrown—like Mount Moriah—so a future restoration at least seems plausible, if not hopefully inevitable.

Tulips

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