Forest Lawn Cemetery

Take a tour through Buffalo’s bucolic and art-filled cemetery, which is home to a U.S. president’s gravesite and a mausoleum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Forest Lawn Cemetery is a place for both the dead and the living. See how art and nature blend seamlessly across this plot located outside Buffalo, New York. The cemetery is the final resting place for over 150,000 people, including President Millard Fillmore, airplane inventor Lawrence Dale Bell and suffragist Mother Mary Talbert.

During a trip to Paris, the bucolic setting of Père-Lachaise Cemetery inspired Buffalo lawyer Charles Clarke. He bought some property in Buffalo and thus, in 1849, Forest Lawn Cemetery was born. 

The cemetery is quite large. Get a full appreciation by joining a guided tour on a trolley or by foot. Choose from several different focuses, including the cemetery’s art, Civil War history and African-American heritage. 

No visit to Forest Lawn Cemetery is complete without stopping at the Blue Sky Mausoleum designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and posthumously completed by one of his apprentices. The effect of the memorial’s clean white lines against the natural backdrop is mesmerizing. 

Forest Lawn serves as an outdoor art museum. You may want to visit the cemetery just to see its many sculptures. Clarke began this legacy by marking the gravesite of Red Jacket with a large bronze statue of the celebrated Seneca chief. Older pieces, such as the 1914 Three Graces bronze fountain in Mirror Lake, mesh seamlessly with contemporary ones, such as John Field’s 1998 abstract sculpture of an angel lifting a human.    

If you visit during a burial, you will hear the hauntingly beautiful chimes of the Oishei Memorial Bell. Listen to this massive bell, which won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition in 1867, as it traditionally rings every time someone is put into the earth at the cemetery. 

The cemetery is also an important arboretum and a birder’s paradise. Bring your binoculars and walk among the trees to watch for the hundreds of varieties of birds that live in the cemetery. 

The walking and trolley tours have a small admission fee. Trolleys are climate controlled and wheelchair accessible. Forest Lawn Cemetery tours tend to fill quickly, so consider booking yours in advance.

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