This past weekend, I took the girlfriend out to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. For those that aren’t aware, the Hollywood Cemetery sits on the cliffs above the James River and across from Belle Isle. The edge along the waterfront gives a spectacular view and a nice breeze while one is enjoying that view. Benches are even available if your feet are tired and need a repose.
The Cemetery was built in 1847 and the first burial there occurred in 1849. United States Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are buried there along with Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis. There are also six Virginia governors and two Supreme Court Justices buried in the Hollywood Cemetery. A section is devoted to soldiers, including commandeers, from the Confederate States of America army, with thousands laid to rest here, according to the official site. The Cemetery is located on South Cherry Street but beware of using your G.P.S. to find it! I couldn’t quite remember how to get there and my G.P.S. decided to send me in a never-ending circle! Fortunately, I was able to find it!
Upon entering the location’s gate, you will notice a beautiful Victorian caretaker’s home. The home reminds me of the house from the Tom Hanks’ 1989 movie “The Burbs.” Don’t fear though; The Klopeks don’t live in this home! Be sure to be out by the specified closing time, though, because the gates will close and you will be locked in! *Gulp – speaking from a prior experience – Fortunately, I was able to get someone inside the house to let me out so I didn’t become a permanent resident!
The Cemetery is built across 135 acres of winding roads, paths, and hills. Narrow roads are paved and are excellent for walking, running, or biking. We chose to walk and the serenity of the area combined with the sounds of the river made for an amazing time for us as well as some fellow walkers and runners. We were greeted by some bikers who were apparently on some sort of city scavenger hunt.
One of the things that really caught my eye was the architecture and ornate nature of many of the headstones and family plot markers. Detailed etchings, inscriptions, and immaculate carvings decorate many of the gravestones. There are also mausoleums on the site, many which have beautiful stained glass windows. Also, something that caught my attention was the dates of many of the deceased. I saw a few individuals whom passed away right before 9/11 occurred and it made me think about how these individuals never knew about these horrific events and how it changed our country. I also thought about individuals whom passed away during the 1980s. Those years were not very long ago yet our lives have changed so greatly. Besides the aforementioned 9/11, other major events and ideas have come to the forefront that have completely shaped and changed our way of life. I thought about cell phones and of course, the internet. I could write for days about how much the internet has shaped our lives, but won’t since you are reading this and, I’m sure, very likely familiar with the internet, I’ll move on. If these individuals were suddenly warped into the present day, would they feel like they had jumped ahead like 200 years instead of the actual amount of time, being about 30 years? It is amazing how much technology has advanced in such a short time. To bring this full circle, one thing that hasn’t changed since 1849 is the way we bury our deceased and honor them. It was amazing to see markers as old as that date as well as plots individuals had purchased and had a marker laid for a future date when they would pass. In a span of 160 years since the first burial there, the basic ideas of honoring the deceased haven’t changed. Simply amazing how I guess some things just work for us.
Here a link to the Hollywood Cemetery website.
There are a number of pictures there that one can explore as well as burial records and even interment fees if one is interested!
Here is a picture of James Monroe’s grave (in the iron enclosement) and General J.E.B. Stuart’s grave with a temporary marker. Both photos were taken in 1865.