Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cemeteries Along My Path #23 - Oak Hill Cemetery

Oak Hill Cemetery

Georgetown, Washington, DC

In the center of Georgetown, lying along Rock Creek is a 19th century garden park cemetery rivaled only by Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery in graciousness and a sense of community.

 Oak Hill Cemetery is a historic 22-acre cemetery and botanical garden located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It includes the Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel and Van Ness Mausoleum which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oak Hill Cemetery was founded by Mr. William Wilson Corcoran. In 1848, he purchased 15 acres along Rock Creek from relatives of George Washington. When the Cemetery Company was incorporated by Act of Congress on March 3, 1849, Mr. Corcoran contributed the land to the Company.

James Renwick, Jr., architect of the original Smithsonian Building designed the iron enclosure and the Chapel (built in 1849) which is a representation of the finest English specimens of old Gothic chapels. The cemetery itself is a major example of the 19th century Romantic movement, the natural and not formal English garden, an acceptance and blending of nature rather than a geometrical imposition.

Because of Oak Hill’s age, its history is largely 19th century, with emphasis on the Civil War. The burials and monuments are mostly for that period. All lots were sold long ago and, until recently, the only new interments possible were in the few spaces remaining in old family lots. Recently, a new project has been started to renovate the paths and walkways.

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