Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Richmond: Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery: A 'rural, garden style' cemetery
on the hills overlooking the James River

Founded in 1847, Hollywood Cemetery is designed to be a rural cemetery that wanders and meanders in concert with its natural landscape. Unlike most cemeteries, which are specifically plotted and sectioned into neat boulevards and gardens, Hollywood Cemetery is contoured and wanders, rising and falling along the hills and meadows in which it is situated.

Various obelisks and family plots (click images to enlarge)

Headstones and crypts. I took the picture on the right, because of the sunlight falling on the
tiny statue behind the Kell Family Crypt. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Another unique feature of this cemetery is its not-for-profit, non-stock corporation status and its ownership by its lot owners. Any income the cemetery derives from its services is used for the upkeep and perpetual care of the cemetery and it shows. Despite its age, its lanes are wide, the plots are trimmed and neat, and few headstones are badly displaced.

Left: President James Monroe's sarcophagus and tomb; center: President John Tyler's grave with
Monroe in the background; right: Tyler's grave.

Close-up of President James Monroe's tomb.
(Just a touch Photoshopped, too!)

In addition to the section of the cemetery dedicated to Richmond's Confederate dead, the cemetery is also the final resting place of native Virginians and U.S. Presidents James Monroe (5th POTUS; 1817-1825) and John Tyler (10th POTUS; 1841-1845). During his political career, Monroe also had the distinction of being Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Governor of Virginia. Tyler is known as the "Accidental President," when he succeed to the presidency when President William Henry Harrison dead barely one month after being sworn in.

Obelisks art comes in a variety of styles from religious symbols to floral arrangements to funerary
draping to dedications. (Click on images to enlarge.)

One feature of older cemeteries that I enjoy are the obelisks. Meant to evoke heaven, the pillars point the eye heavenward suggesting humanity's immortality and ascension to the presence of God. I'm sure upright tombstones and grave markers are a pain to mow around and maintain, but they're awfully striking and far more interesting than markers recessed in the ground.

The Mourner*: A sculpture atop the tomb of a young man who died at the age of 29
(Near the graves of Presidents Monroe and Tyler; click on images to enlarge.)

These last two photos are of the tomb of a young man named James Worthington. I found the sculpture rather haunting and evocative, especially when I read that he died at the age of 29. This simple monument struck me as having been placed by deeply grief-stricken family members.

* The sculpture didn't have a name on it. I titled it "The Mourner."

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 5/08


Fénix - Bostonscapes said...

What a wonderful post. Wow! That's one of the most interesting and beautiful cemeteries I've seen. Gorgeous photos and you couldn't have picked a nicer day, eh? ;)

Hey, re: your comment about a road trip, DC to the Hub is about $80 (with poor mileage and gas at $4/gallon). You can stay at some terrific places for about $100, even less than that -how does $500/week sound? - no, I'm not kidding; I'll talk about this on the blog in the near future. If you don't mind the 8-hr drive... ;)

Maya said...

Cemeteries are fascinating, aren't they? Those last two images are haunting! They really moved me.

D.C. Confidential said...

Fénix: Thanks! I've photographed a few cemeteries now and this one has to be the nicest and best cared for ones I've seen.

Thanks for the info on road trips to Boston. Eight hours seems like a long drive, but then I've driven to Savannah and it was almost nine. $80 for gas seems cheap, and yet, I know it's not. That said, though, I look forward to your posts listing great places to stay for not a lot of money.

Maya: They are. I never thought I'd be fascinated by them, but ever photographing my first one--Rock Creek Cemetery in D.C.--I've been hooked. Glad you liked those last two images. They were moving to me, too.