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Ridgewood Cemetery Association

177 Salem Street

North Andover, Massachusetts 01845

Tel:  (978) 682-5786 or (978) 685-5027 
       Email:  ridgewood.cemetery@verizon.net    
     Website: www.ridgewoodcemetery.org    
     Fall/Winter 2011-2012


 Welcome to the Fall/Winter edition of the Ridgewood Cemetery Newsletter.  We are excited about many of the new happenings at Ridgewood. These newsletters are designed to keep you apprised of the many events and efforts being undertaken to both maintain and preserve the rich history contained within the cemetery grounds. The Mission of the Ridgewood Cemetery Association (RCA) is “to celebrate and honor the heritage of the past; to serve and respect the needs of families representing all religions, cultures and walks of life in a tradition of compassion, integrity and excellence; and to anticipate and plan for the challenges of the future.”   Through the generous contributions of the Town of North Andover (through its Community Preservation Committee) and the Stevens Foundation (regarding Gatehouse Restoration), the Association has initiated thoughtful and careful planning for the future while preserving the rich history of the past.  The Trustees are committed to fulfilling this Mission to serve the needs of the Community.   We hope you will become actively engaged to further the efforts to the Cemetery’s Mission.   

Master Planning       Through generous funding provided by the Town of North Andover through the Community Preservation Act (CPA), the RCA embarked on a master planning process focusing on historic landscape preservation and planning.The Trustees retained the well-known landscape architecture firm of Blair Hines Associates which prepared an Historic Landscape Master Plan; this plan will be used as a blueprint forfuture cemetery preservation and operational efforts.  The goals are four-fold: 
  1.   To provide a broad range of burial and memorialization services for the residents of North Andover.
  2.  To preserve, maintain and improve the cemetery’s physical and cultural resources.
  3.  To continue to be responsible stewards in the management of cemetery finances and records.
  4. To become an institution that is an integral part of our community life.  
 Preservation of the Past       Through the generous contributions of the Stevens Foundation and the Town of North Andover, the Cemetery’s Historic Gatehouse was restored and expanded to serve as the Cemetery’s administrative office, meeting space for trustees,  records repository and center for genealogical research.     
New  Burial Area to be Open in Spring 2012 Recognizing the emerging trends of both the increasing preference for cremation and protection of the environment, as well as the need to offer a range of burial options to meet the economic needs of families, RCA has commenced the preparation of a new cremation garden along the Marbleridge Road/Entrance.  This area will include a series of pathways and privacy areas designed to provide for burials and memorialization of loved ones in a more rural setting.  The area is scheduled to be open in the Spring of 2012.
Restoration of the Atkin Gate/Historic Landscapes    Funding provided through the CPA enabled the RCA to implement master plan recommendations for the restoration of the Atkin Gate off Marbleridge Road including repointing and curbing improvements.      The RCA is also in the process of undertaking historic landscape enhancements near the Atkin Gate entrance.   As a part of those restoration efforts, the RCA Board proposes to develop and implement a detailed master plan for the Marbleridge Road entrance along Longfellow Road and the immediate area.  The final historic master planning in this area will include certain pruning and clearing designed to preserve and restore historic landscape areas overgrown with invasive species and other plantings to enable the re-landscaping in this area of the cemetery.  Come take a look!      
Tribute to Our Veterans   Over the years, the Veterans Lot at Ridgewood has become the focal point and gathering area for the Town’s annual Memorial Day Services dedicated to the celebration and memory of those who have served our country.    Recognizing the special attention this area needs, the RCA has embarked on efforts to revitalize this sacred area. These efforts include landscaping enhancements, new roadway surfaces, and the installation of new curbing designed to allow for the commemoration of loved ones who have served in our nation’s Armed Services.  While efforts have commenced to restore this area, there is a need for additional financial resources and support to implement all the improvements designed for this area.    
Medal of Honor Recipient – Frank S. Gile       Among those historic figures interred at Ridgewood are Frank S. Gile, who at the age of 18, became one of the youngest Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients in U.S. History for actions taken during the Civil War.  Gile served asa Landsman in the Union Navy. His citation reads "On boardthe USS Lehigh, Charleston Harbor, 16 November 1863, during the hazardous task of freeing the Lehigh, which had been grounded and was under heavy enemy fire from Fort Moultrie. After several previous attempts had been made, Gile succeeded in passing in a small boat from the Lehigh to the Nahant with a line bent on a hawser. This courageous action while under severe enemy fire enabled the Lehigh to befreed from her helpless position." 
Marker and Monument Conservation      With the assistance of CPA funding, RCA retained the services of Mr. Ivan Myjer of Building and Monument Conservation of    Arlington, Massachusetts (BCM) whose portfolio includes completed  assessments of the King’s Chapel, as well as the Elliot, Granary and Dorchester South Burial Grounds in Boston.  Mr. Myjer has completed a physical assessment as well as a Monument Conservation Master Plan which inventoried grave markers and    Monuments, detailed needs for the restoration of the historic Main Gates on Salem Street, and the Atkins Gate on Marbleridge Road, and prioritized markers needing priority restoration and conservation.  These efforts culminated in a grave marker restoration workshop held in the Spring, 2010.        The main entrance on Salem Street is flanked by a pair of bronze gates, erected in 1908 and presented by Mr. George H. Gilbert in memory of his aunt, Lavinia Farnham.  These gates are in the process of restoration.  
Landscape Restoration – Harlan P. Kelsey  In connection with Historic Landscape Master PlanningImplementation efforts, the RCA Board of Trustees hascommenced  efforts to restore landscaped areas in the vicinity of the Marbleridge Road Entrance.  Sometimes planning effortsuncover previously forgotten historic nuances.  In the course of reviewing historic cemetery records, it was discovered that the landscaping plan for this area was originally prepared in the1930’s by Harlan P. Kelsey (1872-1958).  Most people know of Mr. Kelsey from a nursery which he had developed in WestBoxford many years ago.  But what is not well known locally isthat Harlan Kelsey collaborated with Frederick Law Olmsteadin the planning and implementation of landscaping along the entire 105-mile length of Skyline Drive in Shenendoah NationalPark in the 1930’s and 1940’s.   Kelsey was also one of a five-person commission established by Congress to establish national parks in the eastern United States. Out of this effort came the Great Smokey Mountains, Shenendoah and Mammoth Caves National Parks.  Kelsey also worked on the layout of the Appalachian Trail extending from Maine to Georgia.  So it came as a great surprise to the RCA Board thatsuch a famous landscape planner and conservationist was involved with landscaping planning and implementation efforts at Ridgewood.    Cmore..ertain pruning and clearing designed to restore and reshape areas overgrown with invasiveand other species has begun.  A trail system has also been developed in this area.  Replanting of the area will be scheduled for the spring using a combination of in-kind and staff resources, as well as consulting resources to the extent necessary to continue to implement this effort. The intention of this effort is to restore and enhance the landscaping plan in the full splendor initiated by Harlan P. Kelsey.                   


The Ridgewood Cemetery Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1850 primarily serving the needs of residents of the Town of North Andover.  The cemetery is non- sectarian.   The Association is managed by a nine member board of trustees with one executive secretary, superintendent of cemetery operations, and additional full and part time assistance.



         Ridgewood Cemetery, founded in 1850, maintains its original “garden cemetery” design in keeping with the rural cemetery tradition first established at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was emulated throughout American communities during the 19th Century.  Ridgewood Cemetery remains today a good example of the rural cemetery’s purpose to provide a place for burial and commemoration in a beautiful setting.   In 1849 twenty-two citizens each pledged financial support of $100 and organized the Andover Cemetery Association. The Association purchased eleven acres on the south side of Salem Street [about one-quarter of a mile east of North Andover Center], and during the summer of 1850 the land was surveyed and laid out.  It was consecrated as the Andover Cemetery on October 10, 1850, and Captain Francis Ingalls, who died November 9, 1850, was the first adult to be buried in the new cemetery. 

On April 7, 1855, North Andover was separated from Andover to form a separate town, and in 1875 the name of the cemetery was changed from Andover Cemetery to its present name, Ridgewood Cemetery [likely to attend to its impressive topography]. Over the years it has been enlarged considerably.  Descendants of many of North Andover’s early families are interred within. Ridgewood Cemetery’s monuments reflect many names from North Andover’s history, names that today mark streets, schools and other landmarks.

‘All the original trustees of the cemetery have gone to their final rest: Rev Peter Osgood, Hon. George Hodges, Deacon Otis Bailey, Mr. Edmund Davis, Dr. Samuel Johnson the first treasurer also Mr. Henry Osgood and the second treasurer Mr. Horace N. Stevens and the later trustees Mr. Francis Hodges, William Johnson, Esq. and James Johnson, Esq. all repose in this spot which they had spent so much time and thought to adorn and make attractive.’ (from:  HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF ANDOVER COMPRISING THE PRESENT TOWNS OF NORTH ANDOVER AND ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS. SARAH LORING BAILEY    BOSTON, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY: The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1880.)

______________________________________________________________       The efforts to preserve and restore Ridgewood Cemetery over the years has taken a considerable effort from staff, the Board of Trustees, and volunteers.  As a private, non-profit institution that is not supported by the Town to fund ongoing Cemetery operational expenses, increases in costs to maintain a level of service expected of others has resulted in the Cemetery’s inability to maintain and preserve many of the important characteristics which make Ridgewood Cemetery a special place.  As a result, the Cemetery must rely on the generous support from donors who either devote time or who make donations to maintain the beauty of the Cemetery. 

                        PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A PLEDGE TO RIDGEWOOD CEMETERY TO ENABLE IT TO CARRY ON ITS MISSION. Have you considered donating a tree to Ridgewood? You may find it to be a wonderful way to pay tribute to a loved one.  Have you considered leaving a gift to Ridgewood in your will?  Simply tell your estate planner that you wish to leave a specific amount or a percentage of your estate to Ridgewood Cemetery Association.  Your gift can be designated for use in any way you wish. To make a donation, please contact any member of the Ridgewood Board, or the Cemetery’s Main Office at 978-682-5786, Superintendent at 978 685-5027or visit our website at: www.ridgewoodcemetery.org