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Historic Colonial Churchyard

The historic colonial churchyard surrounding Old Pine Church retains many tombstones marking the burial location of some 3,000 late 18th and very early 19th century Philadelphians.


Burials began in 1764 as soon as the Penn brothers deeded the 102’x 174′ property at 4th and Pine Streets to a group of Presbyterians. The churchyard, even before the church was built, was divided into a grid with 5 sections having 41 rows. Single graves were dug to a depth of 9ft, so it is not unusual to have 4 interments per grave, one on top of the other. In addition, there are about 100 vaults each having 2 to 10 interments. Not all of the graves are marked. During the Revolutionary War stone cutters either joined the military or, like many citizens, fled the city. Stone quarries outside the city simply shut down. By the 1830’s health codes no longer permitted any new burials in the old part of the city. This restriction created suburban ‘cemeteries.’

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The churchyard at Old Pine Church is living proof of the early congregation’s historical and patriotic heritage seeking freedom from the crown of England. We count among those buried:

 

  • A signer of the U.S. Constitution
  • 3 Continental Congress attendees
  • 2 colonial printers
  • Over 200 Revolutionary War soldiers
  • 1 Tory (oops!)
  • Ringer of the Liberty Bell
  • 9 members of the Carpenter’s Company of Philadelphia
  • 15 medical doctors
  • 20 lawyers
  • 22 sea captains
  • 4 silversmiths
  • 4 stone masons
  • 5 tavern keepers
  • a host of tradesmen and everyday citizens.

 

The last body interment in the Old Pine churchyard was in 1958 for In Ho Oh, a University of Pennsylvania student, murdered in a crime of hatred.

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In 1983, the church created a Memorial Garden, creating 192 side-by-side 12″ square units for receiving cremated remains. Next to the memorial garden is an iron fence enclosed plot marking the remains of world-famous orchestra conductor Eugene Ormandy, and his wife, Gretel.

 

In 2004, the churchyard was the site for a 4-day ‘shoot’ for Walt Disney movie, “National Treasure” starring Nicolas Cage.

 

The churchyard is open seven days, during daylight hours, and closed on national holidays. While there is no admission charge, contributions are appreciated.

 

Special churchyard tours, conducted by docents, are available upon request and it is best to schedule them in advance. Call the church office (215-925-8051) for more information.

 

For information about persons buried (or proportedly buried) at Old Pine Church Third Presbyterian until the 1953 merger with Scots Church (Third, Scots Church) and the 1959 merger with Mariners Church (Third, Scots and Mariners Church), call the church office to be connected with one of our church historians. In addition to Old Pine Church burial records, limited interment information for Mariners Church and Holland-Scots Church members is available at Woodland Cemetery and Mount Moriah Cemetery. No information is available for either First Presbyterian Church members interred from the then Bank Street burial ground to Laurel Hill or Second Presbyterian Church members on Arch or Market Streets.