The New England Grimpendium: Center Church Crypt

For the next month, I’ll be posting photo essays on locations, attractions, and artifacts elaborated on in my new book, The New England Grimpendium (available now) to celebrate its debut...and to convince you that it’s worth buying, I guess. That was directed at you, Mom.

August 23, 2010 — So far in this series from the pages of The New England Grimpendium, we’ve looked at a skull cliff and a tomb room, but no actual dead. Time to change that. Here’s a whole basement full of them. Center Church Crypt in New Haven, CT, is the last vestige of a cemetery dating back to the 1600s that once covered all New Haven Green. 

In the early 1800s, Center Church was built over part of the cemetery. Years later, the city decided to move all headstones not covered by the church to free up the space for less morbid uses (although they did leave the bodies…it’s been estimated that the remains of up to 10,000 dead still lie beneath the feet of the frisbee throwers and dog walkers that visit the park). As a result, all that survived of the cemetery proper were the 137 subterranean stones marking these ancient indoor dead.

The oldest stones in the crypt.

Read all about my visit to Center Church Crypt in The New England Grimpendium, which is on sale now.


  1. It's amazing how well preserved the old sandstone markers are. Shows how much damage has been done by pollution in the last 150 or so years to our historic places.

  2. only a liberal could ruin a remarkable look at venerating these stones with a remark about pollution how's that hope and change workin' out for you?

    1. WHAT AN ASSHOLE! That's all I can say, one year after you made your disgusting remark. Now, October 2, 2012, one night before Willard starts making a fool of himself attempting to choose which of his millions of constantly changing positions & views he should try to stand behind as he debates our President, let me ask you - HOW IS THE ETCH-A-SKETCH BUFFOON MILLIONAIRE CANDIDATE who wrote off 47% of America on video tape (damn, those Liberals are just lurking in every corner, aren't they???) working out FOR YOU! Chuckle chuckle chuckle - Can't wait for election day, which President Obama WILL win, even if the GOP cheats try to STEAL the election, like they did in 2000 & 2004, to give us those 8 REMARKABLE (so NOT) years of Dubya, Cheney & the other CROOKS!

  3. Wow, really? Pollution is a political issues now? I thought it just *was*.

    Anyway, a really interesting post - thanks!

  4. What an amazing place! (puts on must visit list!)

  5. It's not just pollution, though. It's weather and other general wear and tear. These photos simply show that when you cover up gravestones, they fare quite better than when they are left exposed to the elements.

  6. The two oldest stones in the crypt are those of my 9X Great Grandparents...Thomas Trowbridge and Sarah Ruthorford Trowbridge his wife. Thanks so much for posting this great photo. This pollution hating liberal that did NOT vote for hope and change appreciates your effort. This would have been the last place I'd expect to find a right wing troll.

  7. If you haven't seen this, you'll find it interesting and relevant.

    If you visit the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, they have a selection of headstones from the old New Haven Green cemetery propped up against the walls, and (the tour guide told us) they moved the whole cemetery there during the 19th century. I was skeptical of this claim; clearly, not everything was moved.