Going Hollywood in Richmond, Virginia

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Rolling hills and winding paths take you through a huge slice of Virginia’s history with many notable and famous people laid to rest in this beautiful sprawling cemetery on the banks of the James River. Two U.S. Presidents are buried here, President’s James Tyler (10th President) and John Monroe (5th President); Hollywood Cemetery is also the final resting place of Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States.

Hollywood Cemetery also has 25 Confederate Generals buried here, more than any other cemetery in the country, and includes J.E.B. Stuart, the famed cavalry commander and George Pickett, who’s ill-fated charge at Gettysburg proved a turning point in the battle and the Civil War.

The cemetery was established in 1869 on land known as Harvie’s Woods, once owned by William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond and who established the Byrd dynasty which is integrally entwined with the history of Virginia through to today.

Hollywood Cemetery was named for the holly trees which covering the hilly land and which have been used to create the rural garden style for which the cemetery is known.

When the cemetery was laid out in 1869, a granite pyramid was built to commemorate the 18,000 enlisted soldiers of the Confederate Army which are interred in the grounds.

The gothic architecture adds to the atmospheric ambiance of this stunning necropolis, which is also one of Richmond’s top tourist attractions. It is not simply dead presidents and generals who inhabit the cemetery; Hollywood Cemetery is also home to the Richmond Vampire, the most famous of the urban legends which have been spawned by this famous graveyard.

The Richmond Vampire is a blood-covered creature with jagged fangs and skin hanging from its mouth, so the oral history would have us believe, but there is a more horrific grain of truth in this tale. In 1925, a railroad tunnel collapsed at Church Hill just outside Richmond and several workmen were buried alive in the disaster. One managed to escape, Benjamin Mosby who had been working as a railroad fireman and was loading coal in an engine when the collapse occurred. The falling earthworks ruptured the steam engine leaving Mosby with horrible scalding burns such that his skin was literally falling off his body. He died later at Grace Hospital, but the shock of the image has led to it being retold over the years, evolving into the myth of the Richmond Vampire.

To underline the historical significance of Hollywood Cemetery, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places which contains those places which are worthy of preservation. Strolling through the gardens, replete with statues and monuments, is to take a step back through time to the foundation of the country and the greatest event to shake the country to its foundations. Hollywood Cemetery is open to the public between 8.00am and 5.00pm (until 6.00pm during Daylight Saving Time) and there are a series of historical walking tours focusing on the history of Hollywood Cemetery and some of the famous personalities buried there (only available between April to October).


Source by Shell Harris

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