Evergreen Cemetery, located in the Deering section of Portland, along Stevens Avenue, is the second largest publicly-owned open space (239 acres) in the City of Portland.
Established by the city in 1854, the cemetery was designed by Charles H. Howe as a rural landscape with winding carriage paths, ponds, footbridges, gardens, chapel, funerary art, and sculpture. It also includes extensive wooded wetlands. Evergreen was modeled after America’s first rural cemetery, Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The popularity of garden / rural cemeteries as designed landscapes was so great, in form and function; they pointed the way to the development of urban parks as we know them today.
1970s - Walking trails were added in the undeveloped area towards the rear of the grounds.
Wildlife & Bird-watching
The cemetery as been a host to a variety of wildlife such as geese, ducks, pheasants, swans, turtles, blue heron, fox, mink, deer, and moose. Its spaciousness combined with vegetation, ponds, and surrounding the wetland, truly provides a wildlife oasis. It is considered a premier bird-watching sanctuary. Maine Audubon utilizes the cemetery for field trips, to include their annual Warbler Weeks conducted in May. Evergreen Cemetery is also a wonderful location for enjoying the vibrant colors of fall foliage in Maine.
Approximately 65,000 people are buried in Evergreen Cemetery, unfortunately the records for the earlier burials (c. 1852 – c. 1870s) have been lost. Most burial records can be found at the Evergreen Office. Many of the old-established Portland families have lots here and there are several fine mausoleums and expensive monuments, as well as the beautiful Wilde Memorial Chapel.
This cemetery was once operated by a Board of Trustees prior to its becoming a part of the Parks Division in 1957. It is interesting to note that prior to 1944, sales of lots were restricted to residents of Portland.
Friends of Evergreen Cemetery
In 1991, the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery was formed. The Friends mission is to “preserve, protect, and restore the cemetery for past, present and future generations.” This organization secured funds for an Arts Heritage Conservation Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to identify and preserve historic resources at Evergreen Cemetery. When active, this group conduct tours of the cemetery, serve as advocates for preservation, and had input into the 1994 master plan.