Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church bought the land from William Passavant of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Passavant was an important figure in the General Council, which strongly advocated the adoption of English for worship services in Lutheran churches. The Pennsylvania Ministerium, a member of the General Council, had sent Johannes F. C. Heyer, pastor of Trinity in the late 1850s, to draw together both German- and English-speaking Lutherans.
Orchard Hill Cemetery was a burial ground for both German and Scandinavian Lutherans. As immigration increased following statehood, both the cemetery grew too small and Trinity’s congregation grew too large. When neighbors of Orchard Hill declined to sell their property for the cemetery’s expansion, Trinity selected a new site at Dale and Nebraska streets in 1861 and began removing its burials from Orchard Hill. Scandinavian burials were relocated to Union Cemetery. The City of St. Paul converted Orchard Hill into a playground in 1979. During construction of the recreation center, unearthed human remains were re-interred at Elmhurst.