More than Fairfield’s final home for the stars



FAIRFIELD – Oak Lawn Cemetery is the final resting place of some well-known people, like Jason Robards and Mary Tyler Moore, as well as many of the town’s founding families.

But it’s also a certified arboretum, one of only two in the state of Connecticut, and the only one in a cemetery.

And Bronson Hawley, president of Oak Lawn, wants people to come and enjoy the more than 100 acres at 1530 Bronson Road.

“That’s the point of it all,” Hawley said last week, at a reception to kick off the audio walking tour of the arboretum. “We want people to come here. We don’t want it to be a sad place.

An area along the Mill River has been smothered by invasive plants, but Hawley said these have been removed and replaced with native plants and hardwoods, thanks to two grants from the State Department of the Energy and Environmental Protection.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful area,” said Hawley. There are five miles of walking and biking route, and nature trails established in 2015 by some Boy Scouts as part of an Eagle Scout project.

“We are trying to do more programs here,” he said. “We’re not just for funerals, but we’re honoring what our founders started.”

A veterans memorial was installed near the entrance in 2014, and in 2015, the association began hosting annual bird walks led by the Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon.

The cemetery association was incorporated in 1865, named after the oak tree that stood in front of the entrance to the property, and with the intention that the land would serve as a botanical garden.

The board began planting oak trees along the riverbanks at the behest of Mable Osgood Wright, founder of the Connecticut Audubon Society. Now, an arboretum committee selects new specimens for the property.

Trees included in the audio tour range from mature specimens, such as a flowering dogwood, to a fairly young giant sequoia protected by a fence. It won’t stay small, as they reach an average height of 280 feet. The tour brochure includes a map and descriptions of the trees, as well as a Q code to scan with your smartphone to hear the audio. For more information visit

William Allen and Don Parrott were the two main people who organized the tour and spent time tagging and identifying the trees, said Hawley, helping to promote the property as a community resource, not just a funeral site .



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