Oakwood Cemetery - NC

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Raleigh, NC
United States
Oakwood Cemetery - NC

In 1867 prominent landowner Henry Mordecai donated 2.5 densely wooded acres to the Wake County Ladies’ Memorial Association to establish a Confederate cemetery. By 1869 the newly formed Raleigh Cemetery Association had secured an additional 22 acres, a portion of which was allocated for a Jewish section on the cemetery’s eastern side. The first known map of the cemetery was drawn in 1869 by H. A. Engelhardt. It depicts the square layout of the Confederate cemetery and the adjacent Hebrew plot on the southernmost portion of the sprawling grounds, with a network of paths, lakes, ponds, and trees dotted throughout. While the water features are not present in the contemporary landscape, stone bridges traversing changes in grade show traces of their origins that have shaped the landscape. Many oaks that pre-date the cemetery were retained, while others were introduced over the years, including cedars, maples, and dogwoods. The site’s varying topography is highlighted by a vast collection of late-nineteenth-century funerary art, tombstones, and memorial chapels. One such example is the House of Memory, a Gothic-style stone pavilion erected in 1935, in the Confederate section, to commemorate the soldiers interred there. Additional plaques were added to the structure throughout the twentieth century, paying homage to Raleigh soldiers from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War. A monumental three-arched granite entryway with wrought-iron gates marks the main entrance to the cemetery, on Oakwood Avenue. Now encompassing 102 acres and nearly 20,000 burials, Oakwood Cemetery is a contributing landscape to the Oakwood Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.