Our History

Cypress Lawn has always shared a dynamic relationship with the people of San Francisco.

Pioneers, individualists, and immigrants have brought heritage and energies to the memorial park.

The story of America’s broadening cultural and religious life, perhaps most apparent on the Pacific Coast, is told in visual terms at Cypress Lawn. Group after group of immigrants: Italian, Irish, Latin American, Asian, Armenian, Iranian, Samoan. Smaller subgroups tell another chapter, such as the Salvation Army’s area, the Iona Churchyard where two Episcopal bishops are buried, or the memorial to members of the Bridge Builders Typesetters Unions. Today, Cypress Lawn’s staff, enriched by a variety of cultural backgrounds, is a living demonstration of social changes that took place over time.

A special thanks to our forefathers.

Cypress Lawn has always been a group effort. Founder Hamden Holmes Noble was surrounded and supported by a dedicated Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, representing a high level of sophistication, accomplishment, and influence.

Notable members include: Charles Felton, co-founder of the oil company that would become Chevron and member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; Irving Scott, a partner in the Union Iron Works, who designed Comstock Lode mining machinery, built battleships, and was a regent of the University of California and a trustee for Stanford University; George W. McNear, who owned large-scale wheat interests, and whose import-export business increased shipping to and from San Francisco; and John Taylor, who manufactured mining and mill machinery, chemicals, chemical supplies, and many others.

Over the course of Cypress Lawn’s first century, significant names in California’s history – Crocker, Flood, Buck, and Newell – became connected to the memorial park in an intimate way, investing not only their trust, but their hearts, money, and time. They powerfully affected the association’s direction and shared in the responsibility for its success.

A remarkable place for remarkable people.

In addition to winning the trust of individual citizens and families, when Laurel Hill, along with other cemeteries, was finally forced from San Francisco, its directors chose Cypress Lawn to receive the 35,000 buried at Laurel Hill. Those buried at Laurel Hill during the second half of the 19th century were true pioneers of the early West. This rich history then became a part of Cypress Lawn.

Among the people interred at Cypress Lawn are an astonishing number of larger-than-life individuals. They were important – not only to their families but to the story of the West. Their actions created the whole cloth of our history. These individuals lend the memorial park their character and enrich it with their pasts. Their legends produce not only a chronology of Cypress Lawn but also a history of Northern California.

Cypress Lawn today.

Cypress Lawn has a long rich history dating back when California first began. However, it also has an important recent history of improvements, additions, and concern for all Californians.  With the addition of a funeral and cremation center, Cypress Lawn was then able to add services in a far better facility with more specialists in receptions, private family events, memorial services, and funerals. The cemetery has continually developed new gardens and new types of memorialization that families genuinely appreciate.

Whether it is choosing to be part of the breathtaking lawn crypts or cremated remains placed in a glass-front niche or in the area celebrating San Francisco with the mosaic of The Golden Gate Bridge, Cypress Lawn continues to offer families more choices than they can imagine.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Cypress Lawn, please visit our Heritage Foundation website.