There are three cemeteries named Evergreen in the Bay Area: Healdsburg, Oakland, and Santa Cruz. But only one is owned by a Museum of Art and History. MAH. The Santa Cruz Evergreen Cemetery created in 1858 is one of the oldest in California!
What stands out at the Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz is the 17-foot Chinese gate. It sits on a mountain top overlooking the gravesite. This memorial honors Santa Cruz’s early Chinese workers. It has five pillars inside; four depicting Chinese members of the community and one intentionally left blank commemorating all the Chinese buried here in unmarked graves.
“In Chinese folklore, if something is not settled during a lifetime, you have hungry ghosts, like angry spirits,” said Ow, a former Chinatown resident and major donor of the artwork. “By acknowledging these spirits, we’re kind of like feeding them.”
Since 2014 volunteers have stepped up and restored the gravestones to their former glory. You can download the self-guided tour, a great way to learn about former residents, the eccentric, the notable, and some sad stories.
Evergreen Cemetery is a peaceful place that invites you to wander and learn about local history. It is located at 261 Evergreen Street in Santa Cruz.
Have you ever wandered around a cemetery?
Other cemeteries I wrote about: