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The Crypt

 

 

An ancient cemetery with gravestones from 1687 to 1812.

Step back into the past; hear about 300 years of history unrivaled in all of New England.

137 grave stones of New Haven 's founders and earliest citizens dating from 1687…

Benedict Arnold's first wife…

President Rutherford Hayes' family…

the Reverend James Pierpont, a founder of Yale College …

and Sarah Whiting, 1669-1726, “The painful mother of eight children of whom six survive.” She was described as “faithful, virtuous and weary.”

In 1813, Center Church was built over a small portion of the town's burial ground. All the remains and gravestones were left in their original positions to be protected by the church's foundation where a crypt was created.

Historically, the New Haven Crypt is one of the exceptional colonial burial grounds to endure untouched. The early settlers who are remembered there represent a cross-section of the original community: different social standing, different points of view.

The Crypt is a rich source of information on the early days of New Haven and a resource for understanding what makes this city unique today.

 

Crypt visiting hours:

April-October

Thursdays and Saturdays: 11:00AM-1:00PM.

For large groups, please call for an appointment: (203) 787-0121.

 

Some Historical highlights of the Center Church Crypt

The area of the upper Green contains between 5,000 and 10,000 unidentified remains of many of the settlers of this colony of New Haven.

Center Church was built over a portion of this early colonial cemetary, with construction beginning in 1812 and finishing in 1814.

Beneath the church, The Crypt contains the identified remains of about 137 people, and the likely remains of over 1,000 that are unidentified.

Buried in The Crypt are the remains of Margaret Arnold; the first wife of Benedict Arnold.

Also in The Crypt: Sarah Rutherford Trowbridge, who has the oldest dated stone in The Crypt, dating back to 1687.

President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Center Church in 1880 and viewed the burial site of his grandmother and aunt, who are buried in The Crypt.

Theophilus Eaton, one of the founders of New Haven and the church, and for nineteen years the governer of the New Haven Colony, is buried near the foundation of The Crypt.

A complete layout of The Crypt is on display in the church, and is available by clicking here. A corresponding list of the known names is available by clicking here. The original documents were created by Henry Trowbridge, Jr. in 1880.

In 1985, it was realized by many experts in the field that a serious water problem was destroying some of the stones (see photo below). The decision was made in 1987 that the concrete floor was capping moisture in the ground, causing the stones to act as wicks.

In 1990, the concrete floor was removed and an uncemented brick floor was laid in place, allowing the moisture to escape between the bricks.

Many of the stones, in spite of the deterioration of others, are as sharp and clear as if they were carved yesterday.

The Crypt is declared very unique in all of New england by many historical preservationists, because it has been protected by the church for over 190 years.

50 stones have been stabilized, but much more work needs to be done in this area before this treasure chest, which is rich in religious beliefs, history, education, art and culture is lost forever.

The New Haven Crypt Association Inc. is responsible for the restoration and preservation work in the Crypt.

 

Please help us preserve The Crypt!

Example of a stone damaged by water seepage

The Center Church Crypt marks the last remaining ecidence of the early settlers of the New Haven Colony who were buried on the Green.

The headstones in The Crypt are deteriorating due to the seepage of water and the passage of time. Immediate action is necessary in order to preserve New Haven's history or it may be lost forever.

Become a part of history! Help us preserve the past for the future by contributing to the New Haven Crypt Restoration Committee. Simply click the "Donate" button on the left, or click here to help.

Thank you!

 

Further Reading

More information on The Crypt and Center Church's history can be found here, in the Bicentennial publication of the church.

A complete layout of The Crypt is available by clicking here. A corresponding list of the known names is available by clicking here.

 

Requirements:

In order to properly view the bicentennial publication or the Crypt documents, you will need to have the free software "Flash Player" installed on your computer. If you don't have Flash Player installed or if you are not sure, click here and choose "Install Now": Click here to get the latest Flash Player

If you have any problems viewing any documents, please contact us at: Web@NewHavenCenterChurch.org

 
 
   

 

 

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Copyright © 2005 Golden Multimedia & Center Church on-the-Green. All Rights Reserved ...and God is watching :)
The ariel photograph of the New Haven Green is used by permission from T. P. Benincas, Jr.: www.nephotoct.com