Illumination Inspires a New Way of Experiencing a Historic Cemetery 

The nighttime illumination of the historic monuments and natural landscape of Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia have reinforced an emotional connection with the city and community, while strengthening visibility and honoring the past.

“Lighting is a way to showcase the beautiful architecture found on our property,” said Nancy Goldenberg, President and CEO of Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries. “It’s also a way to highlight our grounds. We are proud to be a certified arboretum and want people to come in and see all that we have to offer.”

Established in 1836 and serving as the first cemetery in the United States to be designated a National Historic Landmark, Laurel Hill is the final resting place of Civil War heroes, titans of industry, artists, architects, scientists, and civic leaders. The cemetery has been honored for its preservation of historic monuments and gardens and, in combination with its sister cemetery West Laurel Hill, has been certified a 265-acre Level II arboretum.

The nighttime illumination was designed by The Lighting Practice (TLP) in Philadelphia and installed by Miller Bros. of Conshohocken, Penn. Laurel Hill utilizes long-life, low-energy, high output Dyna Drum and Dyna Accent LED floodlights from Acclaim Lighting for precise optics that eliminate glare and lighting trespass and to illuminate the cemetery monuments in a respectful manner. Both fixtures feature the Aria Wireless DMX system that allows for ease of use in applications where it may have been difficult to run control wiring.  As a result, the lights are easily turned off nightly at 1:00 a.m. to preserve normal day/night cycles for wildlife and provide minimal disturbance to trees and plants. The light system provides uniformly white color but has color-changing capacity so that Laurel Hill can participate in seasonal and special civic celebrations.

Now the more than 31,000 cars, 650 bikers and multitude of walkers who pass by Laurel Hill can enjoy the cemetery day and night. The lighting will offer visual gateways into the grounds after sunset, providing a new way of seeing and experiencing the landscape. The lighting design will also bring a heightened sense of place and safety to the site and the surrounding neighborhoods, while increasing opportunities and options on the cemetery grounds for evening programs, including walking tours and artistic performances.

“By lighting Laurel Hill, we are sharing the message that we’re more than a cemetery and that this is a place for living as much as a place of eternal rest,” Goldenberg said. “When we turn on the lights, we are telling people that we’re here and welcoming them to visit and discover what a treasure we have.”

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