The older of Painesville’s two burial grounds, Evergreen Cemetery’s rich history dates back to 1859 when the Village of Painesville began to buy land from four Western Reserve families: the Littles, the Blackmores, the Cooks, and the Fraziers.
The cemetery was established on those twenty-four acres of land on March 17, 1860 on the corner of Casement Avenue and Main Street. Celebrated for its natural beauty and unique design, people began to visit the cemetery weekly for walks and picnics.
In 1897, newspapers reported that the Old Burying Ground’s land on Washington Street would be used for educational purposes – the construction of what was Harvey High School. Those buried on the property would have to be moved. Many of the people laid to rest in the Old Burying Ground were relocated to Evergreen Cemetery.
Because of this increase in lots, the cemetery began to purchase additional land. By 1938, Evergreen Cemetery’s acreage had increased to its current size of thirty-four acres. However, the cemetery still was not large enough, so the fifty acre Riverside Cemetery was opened in 1953.
As of 2007, 18,740 burials have been recorded in Evergreen Cemetery.
There have been nine sextons of Evergreen Cemetery, the first of which was Thomas Smith. The title of “sexton” was changed to “superintendent” in 1885 when H.L. Barstow became the second man to run the cemetery, holding the position for ten years. Graydon Sweet became the superintendent in 1936. During his term, Sweet revitalized the cemetery and planted much of the foliage and shrubbery for which the cemetery is known, including oak, hickory, and red Japanese maple trees. Sweet held this position until 1970, a record thirty-four years as superintendent of the cemetery.
After Norman L. Eager retired as superintendent in 1999, the City of Painesville’s cemetery division was reorganized as part of the Department of Recreation and Public Lands.