Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity: Gone Hollywood

I have a love affair with a cemetery. Hollywood Cemetery is the jewel in Richmond’s crown.

Were you to visit just one site in our city to capture its essence, it would have to be here, I think. Sitting high on bluffs overlooking the James River, it is a vestige of the old South and unabashedly so. Haunted forever by the ghosts of the Civil War, still it could not be more serenely beautiful.

I much prefer the cemetery in winter. Spring brings such a chaos of color with all of the dogwood and azalea in bloom that it feels almost disrespectful, all that vigorous life and vibrancy shouting for our attention. No, I like the place best in winter when even the leaves on the grand old trees have gone and the mood is a bit more serene.

 

Its name derived from the abundant holly trees dotting the 135 acres of gently rolling hills, Hollywood was begun in 1847. The first burial was that of an infant in 1849.

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It is the resting place of two Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler. The Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, is also here just down the road a piece from the Presidents’ Circle. Many other notables are here including two Supreme Court Justices and six Virginia governors.

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“The Birdcage.” President Monroe’s vault. Source: Google images.

Nothing quite prepares one for the number of Civil War dead at Hollywood. Twenty-two Confederate generals rest here including George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart.

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Twenty-two generals and over 18,000 Confederate soldiers.

The Pyramid is a ninety-foot granite structure completed in 1869 as a monument to the thousands of soldiers buried nearby. A friend mentioned it reminded him of Rome’s Pyramid of Cestius. I think so too.

Legend has it that the construction crane could not place the capstone on the pyramid. A sailor, imprisoned nearby, volunteered to scramble up and place it for which he earned his freedom.

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“After the close of the war in 1866, the United States government refused to allow Confederates in National Cemeteries. This prompted the founding of the Hollywood Ladies Memorial Association to care for those graves already in the cemetery and to reinter dead from other sites. The culmination of the association’s efforts was the reinterment of some 7,000 bodies from the Gettysburg battlefield and the construction of the Confederate Monument, a massive granite pyramid.” (National Park Service)

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Hollywood Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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I hope you enjoyed this little tour of a very special place.

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Peek-a-boo!

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Barbara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. Blogging about whatever happens to catch my fancy - sometimes nonsense, occasionally not.
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102 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity: Gone Hollywood

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    The cemetery looks like an amazing place to visit. I would imagine for a writer, walking through there conjures all sorts of stories they’d like to create. Interesting name, though: Hollywood. Makes the mind think of a different Hollywood at first. 🙂

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  2. I had had no idea that the bodies of Confederate troops were prohibited from burial in National cemeteries. Any idea of the ‘justification’? No need for details, just point me where to look.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra says:

    Fascinating post Barbara, and some wonderful photos redolent of the sombre shades of winter and the history of conflict. I enjoyed this.

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  4. joannesisco says:

    Oh Barbara – you know how I love cemeteries! Thanks for finally sharing this one 🙂
    It’s interesting how a ladies’ association- like the Hollywood Ladies Memorial Association – will rise to the challenge of doing the right thing. This is the second time this week I’ve encountered stories about women as catalysts for positive change.

    I’ve noticed a common architectural feature in many old cemeteries … an urn or acorn type shape on top of a monument, often with a cloth fashioned over it like the one in your 3rd line of photos. Any idea as to its meaning?

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    • Joanne, you and I do share a love of cemeteries and I thought of you the entire time I was shooting. I was so disappointed when I got home and saw the photos that so few were really good. It is such a gorgeous place and I think it takes a “real” photographer to capture that quality. I don’t know about the urn or acorn finials symbolism, but now must find out. I’ll bet you my friend, Jim, if he reads this, will know immediately! Yes, there were so many draped clothes on pedestals! I would LOVE for you to see this place, Joanne, someday.

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  5. menomama3 says:

    You’re building a convincing case for a visit to Richmond! This is a beautiful spot and I agree, that it is strange to find serenity in a place where thousands died as a result of appalling violence and horror. I love the image of the entrance with the stained glass – darkness leading to light. Sublime.

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  6. Oh yes, quite beautiful! Interesting about the origin of the name Hollywood as I originally conjured up visions of screen stars. I appreciate a different take on it!

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    • I know, Hollywood has such a strong association with that other place. I think there is an even more ancient place in England called Hollywode. I wonder how California’s Hollywood got its name, now that you mention it. There must be a story behind it! Thanks so much, Marissa.

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      • I’m sure there is. There’s a book called Hollywood Babylon which is pretty famous. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? I read it a while back. I would think that book would have the story although I can’t remember. Of course now with the internet, all that info is probably just a few clicks away.

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  7. I have always loved old cemetaries. This one is lovely.

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  8. shoreacres says:

    It’s interesting that our Memorial Day originally was Decoration Day, and there were Union women who also decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers buried in their cemeteries. My local cemetery has Union and Confederate buried together. Perhaps one day we’ll learn to live together.

    One of my own favorite cemeteries is the “Showmens’ Rest” in Hugo, Oklahoma. Hugo’s a circus town, and the people buried there all were associated with the circus in one way or another. If you’d like a peek at my photos, you can find them here. I must say that, although that cemetery is quite interesting, the one you’ve shown us here is filled with remarkable grace and beauty. I think your photos are just fine! (And now I have my own hankering to visit Richmond.)

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    • Hello and thank you for this great contribution to the discussion. I “Showmen’s Rest” cemetery, eh? Oh, that sounds right up my alley. I will definitely snoop around on your blog to read this post and find the photos. I do love stuff like this.

      As to your other point, I couldn’t agree more. We know the rifts caused by the Civil War lasted for generations, didn’t they? When I first moved to Richmond, I was surprised to realize that the subject could still ignite quite a furor in the local papers.

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  9. Richmond is beautiful. Your pictures are lovely. And so glad to find I’m not the only one with a cemetary fascination!

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  10. Thom Hickey says:

    There’s no denying cemeteries are fascinating places for pacing and pondering! So much to think about – the personal, cultural and regional histories and, of course, our own mortality. Loved the photographs. Regards Thom (Jukebox latest post involves Archangel Michael! which segues with your theme here).

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  11. Outlier Babe says:

    Beautiful. Wish I’d stopped when I raced through Richmond. I did spend a good couple of days in Charleston’s cemetaries. With all the history in the east, one could spend a life.

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    • Charleston! We hope to go later in January. I love that city with a passion. The gardens, the architecture, the history and food. Not to mention the Gullah sweet grass baskets! I will make a special point to visit a cemetery there which I don’t think we’ve done on previous visits. This time the plan is to amble and poke around with no itinerary. Sounds good, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Those were gorgeous! I absolutely love cemeteries, too. Whenever we are in a new place, the first thing we look for is little local cemeteries. My father lives in Sleepy Hollow, NY, which has one of the best ones. You’d love it!

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  13. Jodi says:

    What a wonderful tour and history lesson, and a cute peek-a-boo of you! What is the colorful stained glass item with the little girl in the last photo. It shouts out at you after the other somber serene photos and feels out of place.. 🙂 The pyramid is so interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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    • It’s a very somber-looking mausoleum which has this stained glass window on the rear wall which you can only really see by poking your face through the grates. I agree, it does feel out of place. I did not find the structure which has Tiffany windows, that will have to wait for another trip. I only scraped the surface that day because it started to get dark so quickly. You would have a field day here with that new camera and lens, Jodi.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. reocochran says:

    Barb, this is just where I would spend hours. I have always enjoyed looking at graves, but you have given multiple and important reasons why this cemetery stands out above others. I admire the ladies of the Hollywood re-internment project. 7000 are a lot of people that have ‘better homes’ and places to spend eternity, thanks to their efforts. I also appreciate the meaning behind liking to walk these paths and study these gravestones in winter. The lovely and flowering trees would seem a little disrespectful or sacrilegious. I agree with you, Barb! I liked the way you chose to end this with a colorful background peeking out behind the somber foreground. You are an artist in the choices of photos you took, loved the pyramid story about the prisoner ‘earning his freedom,’ by placing the top upon the pyramid.

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    • reocochran says:

      Oh, after studying this I can see the way you are reflected in this beveled window, Barb and how the stained glass is reflected. It is a wonderful way to show dimension and so creative, too! xo

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    • Robin, it is remarkable how a group of women, fired up by a cause, make so many good things happen in this country. I remember that an entire area of historic homes near our home in New England was saved from demolition at the turn of the 20th century by a group of ladies. We get things done, don’t we! I can imagine the Confederate wives were not without deep personal scars. Surely most of them lost somebody and so they had such a personal and vested interest in getting the bodies that they could reach “home” to the South. I think of the logistics of it, Robin. In the days before refrigeration and airplanes….those bodies must have had to be loaded onto trains and chugged back down South. Quite the gruesome proposition. I’m so happy you enjoyed this post.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. John says:

    An amazing place, never heard of this. I agree on seeing the cemetery in winter. It would be more peaceful and fitting.

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  16. markbialczak says:

    My how I admire — no, adore — the stone pyramid. Thank you for your photo trip to your amazing historical Richmond Hollywood Cemetery, Barbara.

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  17. Sue Mayo says:

    I have not been over there in a few years. It is a beautiful place to visit and has quite a history.

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    • It really does, Madam. The Jeff Davis statue was in poor light by the time I got down to him and the wind was picking up, so he said it was okay to take a picture another time! There were lots of Mayos there, by the way. No Scotts, that I saw, but lots of Davenports and other recognizably Richmond names.

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  18. nrhatch says:

    I love that pyramid and President Monroe’s birdcage and how a wood of hollies became Hollywood Cemetery.

    Thanks for the tour.

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    • I couldn’t help but wonder what President Monroe would actually think of spending eternity in that rather ornate thing! I’ve been off the blog for a few days myself so haven’t check for any recent news from you….hope all is well in Florida and you’ve seen Pix and had a blast!

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  19. I love prowling around old cemeteries. What a history they give us. Our own family cemetery is a history of the settling of the entire valley. It’s very nice to visit long passed relatives as we frequently need to do do housekeep.

    I particularly liked President Monroe’s birdcage. What an eyecatcher.

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    • Prowling is exactly the right word for it, Kayti. I must ask about your family cemetery. Have you written about it on your blog? Another thing old cemeteries give us is plantings, I’ve found. There is an old daffodil which thrives in long-abandoned cemeteries around here called “Cemetery Ladies.” Isn’t that great? One year, we were walking on a country road and came across a long abandoned country graveyard in Roanoke, VA. Growing in there were abundant iris. Poor husband was dispatched to dig a few rhizomes for me which bloomed two years later. Oh Kayti, the most beautiful grape-y purple. I just cherish my cemetery iris.

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  20. dogear6 says:

    I love Hollywood Cemetery and have a number of photos from there on my own blog. Not surprisingly, they are all pretty much different than yours! I didn’t know that about the Confederate soldiers either. Interesting, but not surprising.

    I do have the black dog in one of my posts! That’s another great story.

    http://livingtheseasons.com/2012/10/11/travel-theme-animals/

    Thanks for sharing! I’m going downtown for lunch next week; I have to take the camera and swing through the cemetery on my way home.

    Nancy

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    • Hi Nancy, it was getting too dark for me to seek out the black dog. There’s always next time, right? I am eager to go over and see what you’ve posted on your blog for Hollywood photos. We hiked along the James today. What a gorgeous day!! Good luck next week, I hope you have time to get over and shoot some great photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Eliza Waters says:

    Great and informative post. Sounds like one of the nation’s most historical resting places. When I lived in the suburbs of Boston, I frequently would escape to the peaceful and verdant old cemeteries when I needed my nature fix. Beautifully landscaped, always quiet, truly serene, I would come away refreshed. Did you ever visit Mt. Auburn in Cambridge MA (1831), ‘America’s first garden cemetery?’ Many people use it like a park.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t tell you how many things in New England I now kick myself for not having seen while we lived there so many of which were in the Boston area. No, I’ve never been to Mt. Auburn and I bet it is outstanding. Also never made it to the Arnold Arboretum which I hope to visit next time we’re up north. People use Hollywood as a park too. They were walking dogs and posing for pictures. I used to love to prowl through the ancient graveyards surrounded by stonewalls that you’d find along a country road in Mass. So many family stories to be gleaned from studying the dates and names.

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  22. dorannrule says:

    Who knew? I surely never heard of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond! And all that wonderful history just waiting to be explored. Thank you so much for sharing this. It will be a “must” on my to do list if I ever get to your neck o the woods! 🙂

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  23. Yes, I am an aficionado of cemeteries. The best one I ever looked at was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Your photos of Hollywood restores my faith in American cemeteries. I always thought they were rather neglected places, with plastic flowers blowing in the wind images, as if the dead have really gone and best forgotten.
    Here in Sydney is a huge cemetery called Rookwood. It used to have its own railway station. Feeling as ‘crook as Rookwood’ is a way of saying; I don’t feel well. Or, worse; “I am on the train to Rookwood”, you have departed this life and are offering a final farewell.
    In Russia, it is a communal thing to pack a pick -nick basket (with Vodka), invite all family and friends and spend a day with dearly departed babushka. Their cemeteries are wonderful too, really works of art.
    Well done Barbara, great photos and fascinating post.

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    • You know, Gerard, I’ve seen cemeteries, replete with brightly colored plastic flowers, all over our country. You are not completely off in that impression. But I hasten to add, there are so many places which celebrate and cherish our history and Richmond, Virginia does it rather well, I think. I love the Rookwood sayings…let’s hope we all miss the train to Rookwood for quite some time. I am nodding my head in agreement about your memories of Russian cemeteries. When I was a little girl in Germany and would spend weekends with my Oma and Opa, they would take me for walks which always seemed to end up in the beautifully-tended cemeteries nearby. I guess that’s where I learned to appreciate their beauty and not be afraid of them. Why not pack a lunch, I say, Vodka included and make a day of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I love wandering about old cemeteries. Thanks for taking me along. Love the photos and the tidbits of information. 🙂
    The treatment of Confederate dead made me think of the grave sites at Gallipoli where there is a large memorial that quotes Ataturk:
    “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
    You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
    You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
    Quite a contrast in attitude. One can’t help wondering where the world would be if more leaders thought like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Heather, what a wonderful addition to this comment thread. Thank you so much! Yes, indeed, to retain that level of humanity after such devastating losses on both sides is truly remarkable. The contrast between Ataturk’s attitude and our own Union government is startling. And we must also remember how the retribution against the Germans (Treaty of Versailles) at the end of WWI gave rise ultimately to WWII. Will we ever learn? Doubtful. Think of Carthage…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • When we were in Cambodia, we were told that former Khmer Rouge soldiers (most of whom were only 13 or 14 at the time of the massacres) are not shunned there as it is felt that to do so – and to shun their children – is to create another generation of hatred and bring about a repeat of the genocide.
        Some places seem able to learn and so much more aware that retribution often only leads to more bloodshed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • One could imagine the Cambodians being a people that could not possibly recover from such horrors, so it is remarkable to read of this spirit of forgiveness.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Phil Taylor says:

    Wow! That is a spectacular cemetery. I do love cemeteries. There is just so much fascinating history in reading tombstones. If I get back to Richmond I’ll make a point to visit Hollywood. Your pictures are fantastic!

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    • Reading tombstones and piecing together the dates can feel like minor detective work in a way. There are so many stories waiting for us to discover there. Glad you like the pictures; I, of course, feel they are so inadequate to the actual place. Hope you do get to visit there someday, I think you’d really like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. The number of dead from the Civil War is staggering, Barbara. Their final resting place, however, is serene and beautiful. I’m stunned and saddened that the U.S. government refused to allow Confederate soldiers to be buried in National Cemeteries. Heartbreaking and divisive.

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  27. bkpyett says:

    Such interesting photos and text, Barbara! 135 acres makes it a large cemetery. You really bring history alive. Delightful!

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  28. Gorgeous photos of this national treasure, Barb. Great idea to visit in the winter. I will wait for a warm sunny day and act on your inspiration!

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  29. Grace says:

    Lovely post, Barbara. I love cemeteries, I find them to be so peaceful. I especially appreciate how much of a town’s history you can learn just by wandering through and reading the tombstones. When we lived in Brooklyn we were just a few blocks away from a particularly beautiful cemetery called Green-Wood, which was also a National Historic Site. Great interpretation of this week’s challenge.

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    • Outstanding, Grace! I’ve just watched an eleven minute video about Green-wood and learned so much. What a marvelous place and so reminiscent of Hollywood in its execution. We have a nephew in Brooklyn and often threaten to visit. Green-wood will be on my must-see list when we do go. Thank you so much!

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      • Grace says:

        You’re welcome, Barbara! Brooklyn is a fun place to visit. We lived in Windsor Heights, two blocks from Prospect Park, for about a year. Our daughter lives in Park Slope. I hope you get to visit Brooklyn, I think you will enjoy it!

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      • For the food alone, right? You know, we’re typical of a lot of non-New Yorkers in that we only visit Manhattan. I know there is so much to see and do Brooklyn. And the Botanic Garden, too!

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      • Grace says:

        The Botanic Garden is absolutely lovely, I spent so much time there. If you do get up to see your nephew I suggest that you go to Al Di La, it is an incredible Italian restaurant. The food is authentic and the ambience is great. Have a wonderful week!

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  30. Thank you for the interesting history and photos. As always, an informative and thought-provoking read.

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  31. Oh, wow, what a cemetery. Nothing like this in Minnesota, of which I am aware. I, too, appreciate cemeteries, especially rural ones.

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  32. Jay says:

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful place of remembrance.

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  33. The next time you are in Washington, check out Congressional Cemetery on the edge of Capitol Hill. It’s one of our all time favorite places in the world (and where we ran our dogs for years but that’s another story.)

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  34. WOW! I love old cemeteries, and this one is definitely now on my must-see list. Just looking at the photos, I can already imagine the energy to be felt in this amazing place. Thank you for sharing! ❤

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  35. Leya says:

    Amazingly beautiful! I love walking in cemeteries. My favourite is Père Lachaise in Paris.

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  36. Wonderful photographs, Barbara- especially your “peek a boo!” A nice bit of research, too. You mentioned a few things I didn’t know about this special place- and good for the soldier who won his freedom with the capstone! What a lovely day you had for your visit. Thank you for letting me tag along… WG

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