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How to explore Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery

A tour of the historic cemetery can be beautiful and educational

Winding paved paths through a scenic cemetery on a rainy day

Hollywood Cemetery has miles of walkable paths through its historic grounds.

Photo by RICtoday

The iconic 135-acre Hollywood Cemetery is nestled in Richmond’s Oregon Hill neighborhood and has been active since the 19th century. Over 80,000 people have been memorialized in the gardens, and people are still buried there each year.

An ornate obelisk grave marker on a rainy day

Hollywood Cemetery is nestled between the historic Oregon Hill neighborhood and the James River.

Photo by RICtoday

The Hollywood Cemetery Board created an official list of 47 “notables” in 1953 within the grounds who have “significantly influenced the course of history due to their actions or opinions.”

Some of those mentioned include:

Frederick William Emrich | An 18-month-old, the first burial at Hollywood back in June 1849.

President James Monroe and President John Tyler | Two of the eight US presidents born in Virginia. Their wives, Elizabeth and Julia, are buried alongside them.

Virginia Randolph Ellett | The first headmistress for what is now the St. Catherine’s School, which has been educating young women since 1890.

Isabel Matthes | An early executive director with the Richmond Girl Scout Council, she died at 27 in 1925. Scouts still bring flowers to her grave, marked with the signature trefoil design.

Florence Rees | A 2-year-old girl who died of scarlet fever in 1862. Her grave is guarded by a large iron dog. The statue was once at her grandfather’s house, so he brought it to her grave to prevent it from being melted for ammunition during the Civil War.

Gravesite of a young girl and iron dog

Visitors still leave trinkets + toys for Florence and the Iron Dog. | Photo by @therictoday

Guided tours

The cemetery hosts multiple tour options so you can explore in person.

Guided walking tours are available through the Valentine museum. Grab tickets here for the next tour on Friday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. The Valentine also offers walking tours of the historic Shockoe Hill Cemeteries. Pro tip: Walking tours start at the Cherry and Albemarle Street entrance

Groups can explore by GEM car, segway, trolley, or tuk tuk for a less physically-demanding tour.

On your own
The cemetery is open for the public from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. Take the Virginia Mysteries Tour for a self-guided experience, with a full map and must-see grave sites outlined with directions.

You can also see Hollywood Cemetery’s complete burial records from the 19th century to today and plot your own route.

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