“ATLANTA’S MOST TANGIBLE LINK BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT.”
SPECIAL FOR THE AJT
Spanning 48 acres just east of downtown Atlanta, Oakland Cemetery is the city’s oldest historic and cultural landmark and one of Atlanta’s largest green spaces. The late historian Franklin Garrett called Oakland Cemetery “Atlanta’s most tangible link between the past and the present.”
Founded in 1850 when the city purchased six acres of farmland just outside of Atlanta, Oakland Cemetery was created as a Victorian garden cemetery. Until 1884, anyone who died in Atlanta was buried here, regardless of race, religion, social, or financial status. The cemetery quickly expanded to its present size with a Confederate section that also includes 16 Union soldier burials, several Jewish sections, an African American section, and Potter’s Field for indigents.
Oakland is the final resting place of 70,000 people, including Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and golfing legend Bobby Jones, Bishop Wesley John Gaines (founder of Morris Brown College), 27 Atlanta mayors including Maynard Jackson, and 6 former governors.
They have guided Sights, Symbols and Stories Tours every weekend on Saturday & Sunday at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., plus specialty tours that you can find on their website oaklandcemetery.com. Be sure to join them on one of their Malts & Vaults: Where Beer Meets History tours on July 11 & 12.
Their June Malts & Vaults tours sold out, so get your tickets fast. Also mark your calendar for Sunday in the park on October 5 as well as the Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tours in October. They always have something fun and unique happening.
In addition to educational tours and events, Historic Oakland Foundation focuses on restoring and preserving the art and architecture of Oakland Cemetery, maintaining beautiful grounds, and keeping Atlanta history accessible.
Reflecting the genesis of Atlanta’s history with artifacts still in their original location, Oakland Cemetery is our community’s most important historical resource. Preservationist Lynette Strangstad explains, “Each tombstone is an irreplaceable historical document, containing some of America’s earliest written history. They are invaluable educational tools through which we can teach our history to new generations.”