Restoration Projects

Help us keep the Washington Irving family plot intact for the enjoyment of future generations by giving to the Washington Irving Restoration Project.

The Headless Horseman trots past the Washington Irving family plot.

Thousands of people from all over the world make the trek to Sleepy Hollow to pay homage to the legendary author, statesman, and historian Washington Irving. Most famous for writing The  Legend of Sleepy Hollow, one of the most celebrated ghost stories of the genre, Irving was more than that. He meant as much to this charming, historic town as it did to him. Irving’s happiest times were spent at this home at Sunnyside with his family. It is important to preserve his heritage for all to enjoy by donating to the Sleepy Hollow Historic Fund’s Washington Irving Restoration Project. Your donation will preserve his legacy.

What you may not know is that the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was formerly named the Tarrytown Cemetery. Irving was responsible for having the foresight to rename the cemetery for the benefit of the community. Irving was not only a story teller, he was the man who understood the significance of the beauty and serenity that the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery had to offer as stated in a letter penned in his hand:

The following is a letter from Washington Irving to Gaylord Clark, then editor of Knickerbocker Magazine.

My Dear Clark:

I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there. The projectors are plain matter-of-fact men, but are already, I believe, aware of the blunder which they have committed in naming it the “Tarrytown,” instead of the “Sleepy Hollow” Cemetery. The latter name would have been enough of itself to secure the patronage of all desirous of sleeping quietly in their graves.

I beg you to correct this oversight, should you, as I trust you will, notice this sepulchral enterprise.

I hope as the spring opens you will accompany me in one of my brief visits to Sunnyside, when we will make another trip to Sleepy Hollow, and (thunder and lightning permitting) have a colloquy among the tombs.

Yours, very truly,
Washington Irving
New York, April 27, 1849

Washington Irving needs your help to live on for future generations. The Irving family plot is in need of $5,000 worth of repairs. Grass has been worn away by countless visitors to the plot, retaining walls are crumbling, shrubs are ragged and dying after several hard winters, and numerous grave stones need to be reset.

Thank you for your generous donations:

  • Donna Davies, New York
  • Elizabeth Evanowski, Florida
  • Robyn Scott, New Jersey
  • Jessica Verday, Tennessee
  • Massilia Russo, New York
  • Jennifer Wuestmann, New York
  • Michelle Allen, Florida