History & Future

The Gardens Cemetery is nestled within the 179 acre Historic Brook Farm in Boston, Massachusetts. John Elliot preached to the Native Americans on Pulpit Rock.  Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne spent summers here.  We are also on the site of Camp Andrews, a civil war training grounds for the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry.  A cannon from the USS constitution placed at the cemetery in 1932 commemorates all Veterans.

In 1870, Gottlieb F. Burkhardt, a German immigrant and wealthy Boston brewer, purchased the Brook Farm property, and in 1871 formed a corporation called the “Association of the Evangelical Lutheran Church for Works of Mercy”. He did this to provide a temporary home for orphan children and aged, weak and helpless persons, and to establish a cemetery. The cemetery was laid out and officially named Gethsemane Cemetery in March of 1873.

From its inception, the cemetery has been (and remains) non-sectarian, and has no religious or residential requirements.

In the fall of 2002, Alan J. MacKinnon, CCE & current President, joined with loving and caring people from the community and formed a non-profit organization which purchased the cemetery from the Lutheran Social Services of New England.  Mr. MacKinnon started his career at Gethsemane Cemetery in Boston over 30 years ago, first as grounds foreman for 5 years, then as general manager for 7 years.

Alan is designated as a Certified Cemetery Executive and is a graduate of the International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association University. He is currently one of five in the entire state of Massachusetts and has served as Secretary/Treasurer on the board of the Massachusetts Cemetery Association.


Mr. MacKinnon is the twelfth President in the almost 150 year history of the cemetery. The philosophy of the cemetery, laid out in the Vision, Mission and Values is well established and fully understood by all of the cemetery staff.

To ensure a solid future for The Gardens, a team of outside expert advisors was assembled to create a Strategic Plan for the organization. The cemetery is committed to continuing and enhancing the Strategic Plan with the formal adoption of a succession plan and enlargement of the management team to expand services and guarantee the mission of The Gardens is carried out into the future.


We continue to meet with our families to listen and learn what they would like from us to be sure that we live up to our mission in serving them.

“He (Alan) is an amazing man.…how supportive and generous he is to the community. “

Membership and Involvement

We are proud to actively participate in the following organizations:

International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association (ICCFA)

ICCFA Legal and Government Committee

New England Cemetery Association (NECA)

Massachusetts Cemetery Association (MCA)




Nicholas G Beram Scholarship Awards Banquet

Sponsor of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life