St. Johnland Cemetery – Kings Park, New York - Atlas Obscura

St. Johnland Cemetery

This forgotten graveyard in rural New York State once served a pioneering hospital.  


The seemingly forgotten St. Johnland Cemetery is positioned between the Sunken Meadow State Park hiking trails and the St. Johnland Hospital grounds in Kings Park, New York.

St. Johnland Hospital, today a thriving care home, was founded by famed Episcopal social worker William Augustus Muhlenberg. Prior to St. Johnland Muhlenberg had already opened the Church of the Holy Communion and St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.

Muhlenberg was helped in this endeavor by Anne Ayres, a former teacher who had become an Episcopalian nun after hearing Muhlenberg speak. Together they helped create a woodland retreat and refuge for those who had been beaten down by hard knocks and city living. This small cemetery served the community, which grew steadily over the years. Muhlenberg was buried in the graveyard in 1877, and Ayres followed in 1896.

Tucked away in the woods, the cemetery can only be accessed by hopping a fence on the north side of the trail or wandering into the woods behind the St. Johnland Hospital. There is no direct trail from either side, making it barely visible and therefore seldom visited. There is seemingly no upkeep of the grounds, which has left the graves to the fate of the woods surrounding them. Some graves have been swallowed by overgrown vines, others are inaccessible due to fallen trees.

Know Before You Go

The best time to visit is in the winter as there is less obstruction from the brush and trees.

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