The City of Westfield, Indiana

Westfield is a thriving community with a rich heritage

Old Friends Cemetery Park History

Old Friends Cemetery Park is the site of the first cemetery in Westfield, Indiana, established in 1834. Many early settlers of the town belonged to the Society of Friends, and from the beginning it was known as a Quaker town. One such member was a man named Simon Moon, who was also one of the founding fathers of Westfield. In the early 1830's, Moon donated two acres to the Church for a cemetery, that become known as the Old Friends burial ground. He died later that year and is presumed to be buried there along with many other pioneers and prominent citizens from Westfield's early years.

In the 1960's, the Church donated the land to what was then the town of Westfield. Feeling that the site, which is located in the heart of downtown Westfield, had lost its original beauty, the Westfield Woman's Club approached the town about improving the site and becoming the caretakers of the landscaping. In addition to enhancing the landscape of the land by including gardens, the Woman's Club wanted to honor the memory of Martha Doan. To honor this accomplished woman and longtime member of the Westfield Friends Church, the garden was dedicated in 1967, and the site became known as the Martha Doan Memorial Garden. From the 1960's to present day, many of Westfield's residents fail to realize that the site is in fact a very historical cemetery.

It became the City of Westfield's goal to bring attention back to its Quaker heritage, its role in the Underground Railroad, and the overall historical significance of Old Friends Cemetery Park. To achieve this goal, in 2010, the city began working with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects to design a new grand entrance into what would become a serene, beautiful site that would commemorate what the location truly is.

This plan has come to fruition, and on April 29, 2011, a rededication and ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the renamed, Old Friends Cemetery Park. In efforts to honor the park's complete history, a formal garden has been established to continue to commemorate Martha Doan, and the trail system that travels through the park mimics the trail established by the Woman's Club in the 1960's. Other amenities that have been added include benches and beautiful new landscaping, renewing the tradition of cemeteries as parks that dates back to America's first public parks. The southern border of the park is the Midland Trace Trail, so along with new bike racks, a drinking fountain, and trash/recycling receptacles, Old Friends Cemetery Park is now truly a destination point on Westfield's rapidly growing trail system. The City is continuing work with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects to add interpretive signage to the park, which will tell the story of Westfield and complete the goal of honoring its rich history.