Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oak Hill Cemetery: a city respite

Spring in Washington is a glorious thing but how does one enjoy it when our parks and streets are flooded with tourists? One of the best places to experience the season's flowers away from the crowds is Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown along Rock Creek.
With unfortunate limited hours this ancient cemetery is as pretty as nearby Rock Creek Park if not better. Flowering trees and flowers are in abundance along the steep terrain.
Established by an act of Congress in 1849 the cemetery is home to many notable names which fill history books.
As any long time reader of this blog will know I've always loved old cemeteries as examples of mature gardens and have blogged about many (Allegheny Cemetery and Egyptian Avenue are 2 examples). This one ranks up there among the most charming that I've visited.
 I love this mausoleum in the form of a stately Greek temple atop one hill.
The older tombstones have so much more character than the granite blocks one uses mostly today.
The hand chiseled calligraphy on most is astounding in this age of machine-age engraving. It's interesting to see how the different stones have aged over time: marble, granite, sandstone, etc.
 My favorites tend towards the simple tombstones such as this scroll (is it morbid to have a favorite?).
If you can find the time in your schedule to align with the cemeteries open hours I highly suggest a visit! Information on the Oak Hill Cemetery website.

7 comments:

Chronica Domus said...

I too love to walk around interesting cemeteries. There are always examples of beautiful urns, carved of stone and usually draped, which I particularly love, to say nothing of the temple-like mausoleums and columbariums.

The cemetery you feature looks to be a beautiful one.

Stephilius said...

Truly lovely. And unlike so many older communities in this country, no one is going to come in and demolish these beautiful old tombstones and build modern ones...! ; )

(Sorry to veer off topic. I'm really rather distressed right now, as fine, century+ old houses in my neighborhood here in Portland keep getting knocked down so that characterless row-houses can be built in their stead; "developer" has become a very dirty word to me.)

I love that scroll tombstone, too.

Blue said...

I really like the peace and quiet (and the birdsong) to be found in old burial grounds especially if they have mature trees and shrubs.

As to Stephilius's comment: developer has long been a dirty word for me.

Hels said...

I too love cemeteries, if they are filled with gardens, seats and temples. When Congress established this site in 1849, they were very wise - the cemetery became a history book in its own right!

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

A few years ago John and I visited Savannah GA. and did a cemetery tour. There is a serene beauty and peacefulness while standing in a cemetery. One feels a true reverence.
I will check out the web site. I was in Rock Creek park with friends once and enjoyed it.
Interesting post, beautiful photography.
Vera

Parnassus said...

Important, landscaped cemeteries like this one are very beautiful, and I also like the very small old graveyards that have a different sort of feeling and charm. Both kinds are redolent of atmosphere and history.

Although Stephilius surely has nothing to worry about in this case, in various research projects I have found that many old cemeteries, some of them quite large, have been moved or eliminated.
--Jim

Mark Ruffner said...

The Bittenger stone is my favorite of this grouping. When you head back to Pittsburgh, have a look at H. J. Heinz's Palladian monument, my all-time favorite and a jewel of stone-cutting.