How to explore Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery

A picture of Hollywood Cemetery, trees and monuments surround the gardens.

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The iconic 135-acre Hollywood Cemetery is nestled into Richmond’s Oregon Hill neighborhood, and has been active since the 19th century. Over 80,000 people have been memorialized in the gardens. Many local families have had relatives buried here, right next to some of the most well-known names in Richmond + American history.

A fountain flows through the gardens of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond
The Hollywood Cemetery is also considered a registered arboretum. | Photo by @therictoday

Back in 1953, the Hollywood Cemetery Board created an official list of 49 “notables” within the grounds who have “significantly influenced the course of history due to their actions or opinions.”

Some of those mentioned include:

 Frederick Emrich ― An 18-month-old, who’s notable as being the first burial at Hollywood back in June 1849.

President James Monroe and President John Tyler ― 2 of the 8 US presidents born in Virginia, their wives 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-years-old in 1925. Scouts still bring flowers to her grave, marked with the trademark trefoil design.

Florence Rees — A 2-year-old 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

The cemetery hosts multiple tour options so you can check these graves out in person.

Guided tours

  • Guided walking tours are available through the Valentine museum. You can grab tickets here. The next Highlights of Hollywood Cemetery Tour is Fri., Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. 
  • Pro tip: Walking tours start at the Cherry + Albemarle St. entrance
  • Bigger groups can jump on RVA Trolleys, Gem Cars, Segways of Richmond + RVA Tuk Tuks with a guide for a less physically-demanding tour

On your own

  • The Virginia Mysteries Tour is a self-guided experience, with a full map + must-see grave sites outlined with directions
  • The cemetery is open for the public to walk, run, bike or drive through from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 

You can also check out Hollywood Cemetery burial records from the 19th century to the present right here.

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