Q: We were eating outside on the deck at Six Feet Under and didn’t realize we were across the street from Oakland Cemetery. Too superstitious to walk over. Can you tell us about it?
A: Within this peaceful 48-acre greenspace are 70,000 graves, but don’t let that deter you from visiting.
As one of Atlanta’s oldest public spaces, Oakland Cemetery overlooks downtown and showcases architecture, sculptures, gardens, and ancient oaks and magnolias. It is the final resting place for many prominent politicians, generals, casualties of the Civil War and unnamed indigents.
The entrance sign states, “In 1850 the City established the cemetery covering 6 acres. Originally known as Atlanta or City Cemetery, the name Oakland was adopted in 1872 to reflect its many oaks. In 1976 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Oakland is owned and managed by the Atlanta Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department.
Bicycling, jogging, picnicing and walking with leashed pets are allowed.
A recent stroll through Oakland found an artist visiting from Baltimore under a shady Cedar, painting a picture of a headstone with his oil paints.
A mom was out with her two sons as the oldest was gathering information for a school project.
The 1899 Bell Tower is the Visitor’s Center and Museum Shop. The volunteers there are a wealth of information.
According to Don Turner, a volunteer since 1976 said, “The cemetery was a mess. It was a rough place back in the 70’s.
“Oh yes, prostitutes used to sit on that wall on Memorial. A man could come by to window shop and then turn back around and pick.”
Two notable burial sites are Margaret Mitchell (Marsh), author of Gone with the Wind, and golfer Bobby Jones.
Cypress trees stand in the quadrants of Mitchell’s area. You will find pennies left on her headstone. According to another volunteer, there are two different interpretations.
“One that others know that she’s been remembered and also the rumor that they collect the money to pay the taxes on Tara.” He said he thinks it’s the later one.
Oakland Cemetery offers a place to learn of the city’s past while offering tours, events, classes, concerts and weddings.
Oakland Cemetery is located at 248 Oakland Avenue, S.E., Atlanta (404-688-2107)
For more information, visit www.oaklandcemetery.com
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