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.