National Register

On December 6, 2007 Spring Brook Cemetery was accepted for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Narrative Description


Spring Brook Cemetery is located close to the center of Mansfield, Massachusetts, in the northern part of   Bristol County. The town is bordered to the north by Foxborough [and Sharon in] Norfolk County, to the west by North Attleborough and Plainville, to the south by Norton, and to   the east by Easton. The district of Mansfield was originally part of Norton; it became a town in 1775.

The cemetery is located on the north side of Spring Street and like the street, takes its name from a spring running under the site. Coral Street acts as the northern boundary for the cemetery, and it extends to School Street on the west and nearly to Dean Street on the east. The surrounding neighborhood is single-family residential. The topography of the cemetery is generally flat, with some small hills and valleys. Shrubbery and some mature trees dot the land. At one time there was a small natural pond on the property, fed by a spring, and home to several hundred goldfish. It was later filled in.


The original cemetery was a four-acre parcel of land, rectangular in plan, and oriented with its narrow south end to Spring Street, divided and bordered by several roads running north-south.  These roads appear to be the present (from west to east): Oakland Avenue, Laurel Avenue, Linden Avenue, and Vernon Avenue. The northern boundary of the early burial ground appears to be what is now known as Pleasant Avenue with Broadway marking the southern boundary. Over the years additional rectangular sections were added to the east and north. To the east, between Broadway and Pleasant Avenue, six additional roads were added - Greenwood Avenue, Maple Avenue,   Central Avenue,   Chestnut Avenue, Birch Avenue, and Willow Avenue. An east-west road called Elmwood Avenue bisects these six roads.

Eventually all of the roads north of Pleasant Avenue between Oakland and Willow Avenue, with the exception of Birch Avenue, were extended north to Coral [Avenue]. East-west cross streets include Cross Avenue and Coral Avenue. The section of the cemetery west of Oakland Avenue is the most recent section of the cemetery and includes two north-south roads - Elm and [Morse] Avenue [s], as well as Hewitt Circle which loops through the land on which the Roland [Green] School stood until it was destroyed by fire in 1923. The alignment of Hewitt Circle also echoes the layout of School Street, which approaches Coral Street from the southwest. One of the last sections to be laid out was on the south side of Broadway, to the west of the chapel. (Note: the cemetery does not have any street signs; these names are visible only on maps.) [Signs now exit at most of the avenue intersections]

As is typical, Spring Brook Cemetery provides a range of burial options including family lots, single grave plots and institutional lots to provide burial space or a memorial for a particular group of people such as a military or fraternal group. The most common burial unit in the cemetery is the family lot, where several generations of family members could be buried together in perpetuity. In most cases the family lots have a central monument, but often there are also smaller, secondary markers commemorating individual family members. Many of the family lots are de lineated by cornerstones or curbing.
Most of the gravestones in the cemetery face east or west, although in some cases the monuments are set at an angle.

The roads running through the cemetery were originally grass but have now been paved with asphalt. With the exception of the stone walls along Spring Street, a modern chain-link fence encloses most of the cemetery.

Buildings and Structures

The west Spring Street entrance (map# I) functions as the principal entrance to the cemetery and is located adjacent to the Card Memorial Chapel. The entryway is about twelve feet wide and is marked by two granite posts that are approximately six feet high. Atop each post, the ornamental cap consists of a torus molding topped by a cyma reversa molding with a low pyramidal cap.  Modern chain-link gates have been placed in front of the granite posts.

A similar pair of granite posts mark the east Spring Street entrance (map #2; photo #2) at the southeast comer of the cemetery, adjacent to the receiving vault This entrance is notable for   retaining its elaborate cast-iron   gates. The ironwork incorporates fancy scrollwork and lighted torch motifs.

The receiving vault (map #3; photo #2), located just inside the east Spring Street entrance, was constructed in 1889. The
structure is built into the side of the adjacent hill, and was used for temporary storage of bodies awaiting burial or relocation. The visible portion of the receiving vault faces east and consists of large granite blocks with smooth margins. A metal door with strap hinges provides access.  The opening is capped by a peaked granite lintel bearing the date"1889."  A PVC vent
rises from the top of the mound.

Adjacent to the west Spring Street entrance, the Card Memorial Chapel (map #4; photo #1) was constructed in 1898 as a memorial to the daughter of one of Mansfield's early industrialists, Mary Lewis ("Lulu") Card.  The building was designed by architect Charles H. Eastman who was Miss Card's fiancée. The chapel borrows from the Romanesque and Victorian Gothic styles, and is constructed of red brick laid with a tinted mortar atop a foundation of Quincy granite. The various roof sections are sheathed in green slate. The building displays a cross plan with a central tower rising forty-two feet from the ground to the apex, topped by a steeply pitched pyramidal roof with copper crocket. Brick corbelling wraps around the top of the tower below the copper cornice. On the east facade, granite steps lead to a round-arched vestibule entry, which displays granite returns at the impost level and a granite keystone. The pediment atop the entryway displays copper medallions, and a circular stone tablet bears the inscription: "Card Memorial, Erected A.D. 1898" and is surrounded by an egg-and-dart molding. The vestibule has a floor of small marble mosaic tiles. The double oak doors are varnished and have large bronze hinges. A long narrow stained glass window is located on either side of the entrance. The north and south projections are capped by hip roofs and each is punctuated by broad, pointed-arch openings filled with leaded glass.  The west projection consists of a five-sided apse with an exterior brick chimney on the west wall, and a novelty-sided, gable­ roofed bulkhead access on the northwest face. The apse is lit by two slender pointed-arch stained glass windows of a floral design.  Each side of the tower is punctuated by two narrow round-arched windows that are filled with diamond-paned leaded glass. J.J. Coon and Company of Boston served as the contractors for the building, and J.S. Kelly of Cambridgeport was the carpenter.

A stone wall (map#5; photo #3) with granite capstones runs along Spring Street. The mortared wall is about three feet high and runs between west Spring Street entrance and the east entrance. Nearly midway down the length of the wall, a flight of five granite steps, about seven feet wide, leads from the road to the cemetery. Adjacent to the stairs, the wall is curved. A lower, curved, stone wall leads from the west of the Spring Street entrance to the chapel entrance. To the south of the Card memorial Chapel the stone wall is just a foot in height, topped by a chain link fence.  

Marking the Coral Street entrance is a granite gateway (map #6; photo #12) erected in 1964. An inscription on the inside face of the west post notes that the gateposts were erected in memory of Mabel Haseltine Sinclair by her husband, Ralph L. Sinclair. Set atop the posts is a large granite lintel inscribed "Spring Brook Cemetery."

The Allen Mausoleum (map #7; photo #9) is the only mausoleum in the cemetery. Constructed of large rough-faced granite blocks, the above-ground tomb is capped by a low-pitched granite roof. Narrow metal double doors access the west facade above which there are raised letters reading "Allen." Marble tablets visible through the openings in the doors indicate that the tomb contains the remains of Micah Allen (l 847-1912), his wife Hannah, (1840 -19 14) and son El bridge (1883-1897). U.S. Census records indicate that Micah and Hannah lived in Brockton; he was a policeman.

The Maintenance Garage/Office (map #8; photo#L4) is a noncontributing metal building constructed in 1988. It rests on a concrete foundation and is capped by a gable roof. The building is oriented with a large garage door on the gable end facing the cemetery. The gable facing School Street has two slider windows; there is a door on the north elevation. Facing School Street there is a noncontributing simple granite sign (map #9; photo #13) erected in 1998 and made of Vermont granite. It reads "Spring Brook Cemetery, Est.  1865", It was donated by Mrs.  Emma Scarpellini.

The original Roland Green School was also at one time located within the present cemetery grounds, at the comer of Coral and School Streets. It burned down in 1923 and some of the foundation stones were later used as foundations for cemetery markers. The land on which the school stood is now dotted by modern gravestones.  Until 1988 there were also two tool sheds located near Willow Avenue.   These were removed when the new garage was built.


The Spring Brook Cemetery contains a wide range of grave markers ranging from modest markers to larger monuments. Granite and marble markers predominate, but there are also slate, brownstone, and zinc examples. Taller monuments, including obelisks, columns, and square shafts are seen throughout the cemetery. There are a number of monuments topped by artfully carved urns. Monument makers whose work is represented at Spring Brook include Burt and King (also known as O.A. Burt and Burt & Co. at various times) of Taunton, Long & Saunders of Quincy, Frank Tingley of Providence, L.A. Rogers of  Clinton, Stanton & Farnum of Providence, and J. L. Miller of Quincy.

The oldest stones in the cemetery are found in the rectangular section to the northwest of Card Memorial Chapel. These stones predate the establishment of Spring Brook Cemetery about 1860. According to a cemetery census taken in 1987 there are at least sixty-four graves in Spring Brook Cemetery that predate 1850.  The earliest death date that appears in the cemetery is that of Avery Dean, the infant son of William and Abigail Dean, who died in 1790.  A single marble marker
marks the grave of Avery Dean and  his parents (Abigail d. 1811 and William d.  1808) (map #10).  The next oldest stone found is the simple marble tablet of Samuel Bixby Allen (map#11), the son of Micah Allen Jr. and Annah Allen, who died at the age of five in 1807. The stone is located on the east side of Vernon Avenue, a short distance from Broadway. Just to the south of the Bixby stone, the marker for Mrs. Betsey Tolman (map #12, photo #7), the widow of Thomas Tolman who died in 1818, is notable as the only slate marker in the cemetery. The shouldered slate stone is inscribed with an urn and willow, intended to evoke the ideals of classicism and nature.

The southern part of the cemetery has numerous simple marble headstones. The headstones of Josephine and Charlotte Manuel (map #25, photo #8) are examples of typical rectangular markers and date to the I840s. Marble was popular for funerary monuments in the mid-19th century because it could also be carved into more elaborate shapes and classically inspired forms including columns and artfully carved urns.

During this period, simple obelisks also found great favor because they were tasteful, associated with ancient greatness, and less costly than elaborate sculpted monuments. A virtual catalogue of obelisks ranging from simple to grand is found in the family plots along Broadway.  At the northeast corner of Chestnut Avenue and Broadway is the simple marble obelisk marking the family plot of straw bonnet manufacturer George Mowry (1835-1887) (map #13, photo #3 right), which is set on a brownstone base and topped by a draped urn. Like many of the marble monuments in the cemetery, it bears the imprint of Burt & King of Taunton.  Granite curbing encircles the more elaborate marble obelisks of George Wilcox (map#14, photo #3) and John Roger (map #15, photo #3), which are located on the north side of Broadway between Maple Avenue and Central Avenue. Wilcox was a cutlery manufacturer and his plot is also occupied by members of the McMoran and Fulton families.  The urn-topped marble obelisk has a dove on the front face and raised panels in marble, and is also the work of Burt & King. The same company's monument for John Rogers (1806-1873) consists of an urned obelisk set on a granite base and embellished by a raised crown and cross and wreath. At the northeast comer of Elmwood Avenue and Central Avenue, the family plot of furnace manufacturer Gardner Chilson (1804-1877) (map#16, photo #5) consists of a central, urn-topped granite monument and smaller footstones, encircled by curved granite curbstones, steps, cornerstones, and urns.

On the east side of Greenwood Avenue, the algae-covered, deteriorated brownstone monument of  straw shop owner and cemetery proprietor David Harding (1825-1909) (map#17) illustrates why this relatively soft stone found limited popularity in cemeteries. The family plot contains an urn-topped octagonal column atop a square base; the corner posts are also brownstone.

Within the cemetery there are a number of cast zinc or "white bronze" monuments which found popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. The hollow metal monuments have a characteristic blue-gray color and were typically made in the same shapes and styles as more expensive marble or granite models. Although none of the white bronze monuments bear any company imprint, most of these markers were undoubtedly purchased from the Monumental Bronze Company, a foundry in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that started manufacturing them in the mid l870s and discontinued production in 1912. Examples include the monument of William Hunnewell (I 808-1876) and family (map #18, photo #6). Like many of the cast zinc monuments, this one takes on a rusticated finish to resemble stone but at a lesser cost The cast-zinc monument of coal dealer Andrew D. King ( J837-19 l3)( map #19) is square in plan and set at an angle in relation to the rows of other monuments in the cemetery. It has a rusticated appearance with Corinthian corner columns and arched panels. The ca.1910 cast-zinc Mary and Charles Booth monument (map #20) is located on Chestnut Avenue near Cross Avenue.  It incorporates the illusion of a curtain with tassels above the raised panels, with raised letters that resemble logs. The monument is topped by a flaming urn.

In the early 20th century, granite became increasingly popular. In addition to its regional availability, it was durable and thanks to the introduction of pneumatic tools, could be shaped into intricate forms. A number of late 19th and early 20th century monuments at Spring Brook were fashioned in granite by monument companies including Long & Saunders of. Quincy, J.L. Miller of Quincy, Stanton & Farnum and Frank Tingley of Providence, Rhode Island. Long & Saunders is the maker of the Card family marker, (Simon Card d.1899; Mary Card d. 1929, Mary Lewis Card, d. 1896) (map #21, photo #4). They also manufactured the granite tablet marking the grave of Anson W. Cobb (1841-1897) (map #22) at the southwest comer of Elmwood and Maple Avenues. The tablet is embellished by classically inspired detailing including egg and dart moldings and foliate ornament on the stone's rounded top corners. Cobb fought in the Civil War for three years, was active in several lodges and organizations, served as a deputy sheriff of Bristol County and was fire chief of Mansfield from 1891 until his death in 1897. Among the more unusual gravestones is that of Charles S. Frost (183l- i898)( map #23, photo #10), who worked as a chainmaker (sic) in Spaulding's jewelry shop and served as a State Representative. The marker depicts a book with an "F" on the cover resting on a lectern.   Below the lectern the polished granite is incised with an image of gates opening.  This monument was also manufactured by Long & Saunders.

Significant gravesites include the Unknown Soldier's Monument (map #24, photo #11),erected by the Grand Army of  the Republic in 1913on the east side of Chestnut Avenue, near Cross Avenue. The rough stone tablet has three smooth panels reading "G.A.R.," "Unknown," and "1913”.   There are more than 500 veterans buried at Spring Brook, with approximately 300 identified by the conflict in which they served. These include two Revolutionary War veterans; three from the War of 1812; 70 from the Civil War; one from the Spanish American War; 83 from World War I; over 120 from World War II; veterans who served in both World War II and the Korean War; and others from the Vietnam War. A number of monuments in the cemetery also bear the insignia of various fraternal organizations such as the Odd Fellows (three links of a chain) or the Masons (compass).
West of Oakland Avenue the gravestones are modern, typically made of granite, with smooth faces and rough-faced edges. Northwest of Pleasant and Oakland, the monuments date from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. The markers in the northwest section of the cemetery consist primarily of slant stones and are more densely situated. Beginning in the late 1950s, marble markers were prohibited in the new sections of the cemetery.


While no ancient Native American sites are known within the boundaries of the Spring Brook Cemetery, sites may exist. One ancient site is known in the general area (within one mile), south of the cemetery on a terrace of the Rumford River. Environmental characteristics of the property represent locational criteria, slope, soil drainage, proximity to wetlands) that are favorable for the presence of Native sites. The cemetery is located on excessively drained, level to moderately s lopingtopography, in close proximity to wetlands. Soils are generally sandy and formed in gravelly glacial outwash deposits.

Tributary streams of the Rumford River are located within 1,000 feet east and west of the cemetery. One tributary has been dammed, creating a pond east of the cemetery.   A spring also runs beneath the cemetery and feeds a pond that has been filled, then recently cleaned out. The cemetery lies within the headwaters of the Taunton River drainage. Given the above information, known patterns of Native American settlement in southeastern Massachusetts, the size of the cemetery (22 acres), and historic land use of the property discussed below, a moderate to high potential exists for locating ancient Native American resources in the Spring Brook Cemetery.

A high potential exists for the recovery of historic archaeological resources in the cemetery. Structural evidence, outbuildings, and occupational-related features (trash pits, privies, wells) may survive from the Roland Green School originally located on cemetery property at the corner of Coral and School Streets. The Green School burned in ca l935. Similar archaeological evidence may also survive from a caretaker's house that either burned or was moved across the street from near the Coral Street entrance. Structural evidence from barns, stables, a carriage house, a hearse house, and outbuildings may survive in the cemetery.  At least two toolsheds were located near Willow Avenue until 1988, when they were removed to build the new metal maintenance garage/office.

Unmarked graves may also exist in the Spring Brook, Cemetery. Unmarked graves may result from lost gravestones, markers that have deteriorated over time, and intentionally unmarked graves. While the cemetery was created in ca. 1860, the earliest known gravestones date to the early 19th  century, possibly indicating the presence of an earlier family/neighborhood cemetery or reburials from other cemeteries. In the event a family or neighborhood cemetery was present, many stones from this earlier period of use may have been lost. Additional historical research combined with archaeological testing may contribute important evidence that clarifies the use of Spring Brook Cemetery during the first half of the 19th century and possibly earlier. Historical evidence may exist that documents earlier burial ground at this location. Archaeological testing of unmarked and marked graves may also clarify whether the graves are primary interments, reburials from other area, or commemorative graves. Primary interments will usually contain a grave marker, burial shaft, casket(s), skeletal remains from single or multiple individuals, and personal items of the deceased. Reburials contain similar items. Caskets may be deteriorated and interred individuals may be wholly or partly represented. In some instances reburials may be commemorative, lacking human remains.  Intentionally unmarked graves and unmarked graves that result from grave markers that have deteriorated may result from the burial of paupers, indigents, and unknown persons.