About Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia – History & Location

Hollywood Cemetery is a large, sprawling cemetery located next to Richmond, Virginia’s Oregon Hill neighborhood at 412 South Cherry Street. Characterized by rolling hills and winding paths overlooking the James River, it is the resting place of two United States Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as the only Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. It is also the resting place of 28 Confederate generals, more than any other cemetery in the country; these include George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart.


The land that Hollywood Cemetery currently stands on was once part of William Byrd III’s estate. Later, it was owned by the Harvie family and was known as “Harvie’s Woods.” William H. Haxall was one of the original founders of Hollywood Cemetery. In the spring of 1847, two citizens of Richmond, Joshua J. Fry and William H. Haxall, while on a visit to Boston, visited Mount Auburn Cemetery, a beautiful cemetery near that city. They were impressed by the solemn grandeur of the place and resolved that they would, on their return to Richmond, propose the establishment of a rural cemetery near the city. It was through their original efforts and the subsequent cooperation of local citizens that Hollywood Cemetery was created. On June 3, 1847, Haxall, Fry, William Mitchell Jr., and Isaac Davenport Sr. purchased from Lewis E. Harvie, who sold under a deed of trust from Jacqueline B. Harvie for the sum of $4,075, a certain portion of the lots or parcels of land in the town of Sydney, in the County of Henrico, together with “the privileges and appurtenances to the belonging, which said portion is adjoining to Clarkes Spring and contains by survey forty-two acres, three roods, but of which one rood, known as Harvie’s rood, or graveyard, with free ingress and egress to the said graveyard is reserved.” This purchase was made with the design of establishing a rural cemetery. Hollywood Cemetery was designed as a garden cemetery, or park cemetery, which was the trend at the time borrowed from the French in an effort to provide more green space in urban areas.

In the late 1840s, William Haxall, William Mitchell Jr. and Joshua Fry hired John Notman (architect of Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia) to design the cemetery in the rural garden style. Its name, “Hollywood,” came from the holly trees dotting the hills of the property. Oliver P. Baldwin delivered the dedication address in 1849.

James Monroe was reinterred from New York City to the “President’s Circle” section of Hollywood cemetery on July 4, 1858, due to the efforts of Governor Henry A. Wise.

The women of the Hollywood Memorial Association placed the Monument of Confederate War Dead on the top of a hill so it would be the first thing visitors see when they enter the cemetery.
The Monument of Confederate War Dead at Hollywood Cemetery
In 1869, a 90-foot (27 m) high granite pyramid designed by Charles H. Dimmock was built as a memorial to the more than 18,000 enlisted men of the Confederate Army buried in the cemetery. It was a project supported by the Hollywood Ladies Memorial Association, a group of Southern women dedicated to honoring and caring for the burial sites of fallen Confederate soldiers.

The capstone of the pyramid has been a source of legend for Richmonders. No one could determine how to place the capstone atop the lofty 90-foot pyramid. Thomas Stanley, a criminal working on the pyramid, proposed and executed the solution. In retellings, locals say the prisoner was freed due to his contribution to the pyramid’s construction. The only evidence of this is a note was added to his prison schedule that read “transferred,” suggesting he was moved rather than freed.

The pyramid became a symbol of the Hollywood Memorial Association, appearing on its stationery as well as on the front of a pamphlet of buried soldiers, the Register of the Confederate Dead.

In 1890, a chapel was constructed next to the entrance of the cemetery. This chapel now serves as the cemetery office. In 1915, the original entrance was closed and the present one was opened to better facilitate cars.

Interior of Palmer Chapel Mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery
The Palmer Chapel Mausoleum was built 1992, adding 730 crypts for caskets and 160 cremation niches.

Hollywood Cemetery is one of Richmond’s major tourist attractions. There are many local legends surrounding certain tombs and grave sites in the cemetery, including one about a little girl and the black iron statue of a dog standing watch over her grave.[9] Other notable legends rely on ghosts haunting the many mausoleums. One of the most well-known of these is the legend of the Richmond Vampire.

A place rich in history, legend, and gothic landscape, Hollywood Cemetery is also frequented by many of the local students attending Virginia Commonwealth University

Established 1849
Country United States
Website www.hollywoodcemetery.org
Find a Grave Hollywood Cemetery
Hollywood Cemetery
Location 412 S. Cherry St., Richmond, Virginia
Coordinates 37°32′09″N 77°27′25″WCoordinates37°32′09″N 77°27′25″W
Area 130 acres (526,000 m2)
Built 1860
Architect Pratt, William H.
NRHP reference No. 69000350[1]
VLR No. 127-0221
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 12, 1969
Designated VLR September 9, 1969[
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