From this morning’s Times Dispatch: Hollywood Cemetery, established in 1847, was one of the nation’s first cemeteries designed in the “rural style,” with meandering roads that follow the contours of 135 acres overlooking the James River just west of downtown. The center of attention is Presidents Circle, where Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are buried. Other […]
Hollywood Cemetery, established in 1847, was one of the nation’s first cemeteries designed in the “rural style,” with meandering roads that follow the contours of 135 acres overlooking the James River just west of downtown.
The center of attention is Presidents Circle, where Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are buried. Other notables elsewhere in the cemetery include Confederate President Jefferson Davis, six Virginia governors, 22 Confederate generals, two Supreme Court justices, Confederate soldiers, business leaders and literary figures.
Monroe, who died in 1831, was moved to Hollywood in 1859. The sarcophagus of the nation’s fifth president is topped by a 12-foot-tall cast iron “birdcage.” Tyler, who died in 1862, is buried beneath a monolithic granite shaft erected by the federal government in 1915. At the top, a bronze Greek urn is supported by two eagles. A bronze bust of the 10th president stands on a pedestal at one side.
A survey by Pennsylvania consultant Robert Mosko in 2007 estimated that a full restoration of the cemetery and its monuments could cost $7 million. Even though Hollywood remains an active cemetery, income from about 200 burials a year produces only about half of the cemetery’s $1 million to $1.5 million operating budget, with only about $75,000 allocated to restoration and preservation, said cemetery director David Gilliam. The rest of the operating budget comes from investment income.
So Friends of Hollywood was created to concentrate on raising money. The first phase has a goal of $1.5 million to $2 million, said Mary Hoge Anderson, a Friends board member. That amount would repair Presidents Circle and cover repairs in surrounding areas. Because the Friends group is set up as a 501(c)(3), it’s eligible for grants and matching gifts that the nonprofit cemetery would not be able to qualify for under its 501(c)(13) status.
The project already has received $50,000 from the Roller-Bottimore Foundation and $20,000 from the Marietta M. & Samuel Tate Morgan Jr. Foundation, both of Richmond. Restoration work has begun within the circle to repair some of the damage, including from Hurricane Isabel.
Where a falling tree had shattered the marble cross for Mary Heath Davenport Newton in Presidents Circle, a replacement stone once again is identical to the cross of Elise Williams Atkinson beside it.
A new headstone has been created for Eliza Maury Withers, whose father, Matthew Fontaine Maury, is portrayed on Monument Avenue as the “Pathfinder of the Seas.” A long-ago repair with mortar had left black streaks across the face of her headstone. The new marble stone is identical in size and shape to the original.
Other remaining projects include repairs to the ornamental cast iron fence, only a third of which remains intact across from Presidents Circle. The rest was destroyed by tour buses before the area was declared pedestrian-only.
“The cemetery is similar to a historic structure that you want to preserve,” Anderson said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here.”
“The challenge,” Gilliam said, “is to build an endowment so that when we’re no longer active with sales, we can operate.”