Established between 1815 and 1865, these six contiguous burial grounds represent early efforts by African Americans to establish their own cemeteries. Arranged in a grid, the cemeteries occupy a rolling, 12-acre parcel sparsely dotted with grave markers and large trees. When originally established on Richmond’s north end, the cemeteries were surrounded by countryside; however by the late 19th century they were enveloped by the Barton Heights community. In 1934 the City of Richmond acquired the cemeteries and undertook maintenance and improvements.
The markers are comprised of a range of materials including slate, marble, granite, fieldstone, and concrete and vary in size, shape, and age. Some plots feature tombs encased in brick or enclosed with cast iron fences or stone curbs. Established willow oak, sweet gum, maple, black locust, wild cherry, elm, and tree of heaven are scattered across the landscape. The cemeteries are encircled by a fence erected by the Works Progress Administration in 1935. A thick grove of trees to the south and neighborhood streets to the north, east, and west enclose the burial ground. The streets are lined with single and multi-family homes constructed in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Burials continued to take place through the 1970s. Barton Heights Cemeteries was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.