248 Oakland Ave. S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30312
It is a quiet, peaceful, beautiful botanical garden for the dearly departed that lies in the center of Atlanta’s urban cityscape. The Oakland Cemetery serves as the final resting place for some of Atlanta’s most influential figures spanning hundreds of years to the present date. It is but a “memento mori” as illustrious art, and plush gardens engulf the cemetery filled with extravagant headstones and architecture paying homage to the dead that lay beneath its hollow grounds. The Oakland Cemetery was founded in 1850, and for a good portion of the 19th century, it served as a refuge and park-like space for the Oakland community.
After World War I, the cemetery’s upkeep began to decline as locals moved away and younger generations lost sight in the overall value as a community landmark. It wasn’t until the 1970s that families of the dead resting within the tombs initiated reformation efforts to protect what was left from vandalism and theft that had already plagued the historic cemetery. The families formed the Historic Oakland Foundation, with the goal of partnering with the City of Atlanta to restore, preserve, enhance, and share the history of Atlanta’s dead with that of the living. Today, the Historic Oakland Cemetery is a horticulturalist’s delight filled with lush gardens and rich and vibrant history. The Victorian era is alive and well within the winding paths of the cemetery’s sculptures, architectural, tombs, and flowers.
With over 100 different plots, it is the final home to some of Atlanta’s most iconic figures. From Civil War soldiers to business tycoons, famous writers, athletes, and Civil Rights leaders, it holds no divide for Atlanta’s illustrious dead. Thousands flock to the Historic Oakland Cemetery to visit the graves of some of Atlanta’s most famous residents such as Margaret Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Gone With The Wind;” Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor; and golf great legend Robert T. (Bobby) Jones, who is the only person to win all four major golfing titles in one calendar year in 1930.
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The cemetery is open Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. until dusk. Throughout the year, the Historic Oakland Foundation offers guided tours to all interested parties educating on the history of the cemetery and the stories of the dead who make it home. It also offers special topic tours such as African American History at Oakland, Epitaphs – The Immortality of Words, Fear and Accusation: The Leo Frank Story, among other notable topics and stories to excite patrons with intrigue in the mystery of the dead. The tour prices are relatively cheap at $12 for adults, $6 for students and elderly, and free for Oakland Foundation Members. Also for those who want to take a self-guided tour, there is only a $5 fee which includes the map of the 48 acre grounds marking the 85 stops for your touring pleasure. Don’t forget to stop by their gift shop offering books based on the people and history of the cemetery, apparel, maps, jewelry and other keepsakes.
Across the street from the cemetery, patrons also have many amazing restaurant options such as Six Feet Under, Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, or Ria’s Bluebird Cafe as delicious lunch options. So next time you’re in Atlanta looking for an historic treasure, head to lunch at some of the recommended locations, then walk across the street and tour the Historic Oakland Cemetery. Make sure you visit Bobby Jones grave site (and drop a ball,) wander to find Margret Mitchell grave marker and take note of the Union and Confederate graves. You won’t find any other place in Atlanta more vibrant, and rich with history.
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