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Elmwood Cemetery (Detroit, Michigan)

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Title: Elmwood Cemetery (Detroit, Michigan)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Frederick Law Olmsted, Coleman Young, Lewis Cass, Lucius Lyon, William Woodbridge, George Bryan Porter, Robert McClelland (American politician), John Norvell, Zachariah Chandler, Truman Handy Newberry
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Elmwood Cemetery (Detroit, Michigan)

Elmwood Cemetery
Location 1200 Elmwood Avenue United States
Built 1841
Architectural style Other
Governing body Private
Part of Eastside Historic Cemetery District (#82000550)
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 02, 1982
Designated MSHS February 21, 1975[1]

Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit is one of Michigan's most important historic cemeteries. Located at 1200 Elmwood Street in Detroit's Eastside Historic Cemetery District, Elmwood is the oldest continuously operating, non-denominational cemetery in Michigan. The cemetery was dedicated October 8, 1846 as a rural cemetery and incorporated as a non-profit corporation by Special Act 62 of the Michigan Legislature on March 5, 1849. The first burial occurred three weeks prior to the dedication on September 10, 1846. Founded by some of early Detroit’s leading residents, Elmwood originally covered 42 acres (170,000 m2). Over time, it expanded to encompass 86 acres (350,000 m2) and is the final resting-place of many notable Detroiters as well as ordinary citizens. In 1850, however, the cemetery became slightly smaller when Temple Beth El purchased one-half acre to establish what is now Michigan's oldest Jewish Cemetery.[2] The State of Michigan designated it as a State Historic Site in 1975.[1]

Burt family tombstone

Elmwood was the first fully integrated cemetery in the Midwest. A short distance from downtown Detroit, Elmwood continues to serve residents of all ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs.

Elmwood’s park-like grounds containing a gently-flowing stream and low hills were designed in 1890 by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. They are based on the design of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Gothic Revival chapel on the grounds was constructed in 1856. It underwent renovation in 1961 and was destroyed by fire in 1976. With a public outpouring of support, the building was restored and continues to play an important role.

Elmwood Gatehouse

In 1874, the State of Michigan purchased a section to inter Civil War veterans and in 1876, the Firemen's Lot was dedicated with a monument that depicts firefighting equipment and the fire hall that once stood at the corner of the present Renaissance Center on Randolph and Jefferson Avenue. The Civil War section holds 205 graves today.[2]

The Gothic Revival gatehouse was added in 1876 and in 2003 its portal was closed and filled with a reception room designed to harmonize with the historic architecture. The gate was closed because it was unable to accommodate larger vehicles which needed access to the grounds.[3]

The cemetery makes an appearance in the film Detroit 9000 as the scene of a shootout.

Some prominent burials

Marker of John Norvell's grave


  1. ^ a b "Elmwood Cemetery". Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Franck, Michael S. (1996). Elmwood Endures: History of a Detroit Cemetery. Detroit: Wayne State University. ISBN . 
  3. ^ "Take a Tour". Historic Elmwood Cemetery. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ Mary Bailey (17 February 2000). "Detroit's Street Names Honor Early Leaders". Detroit News ( Retrieved 2011-03-29. 

External links

  • Elmwood Cemetery official site
  • Find A Grave: Famous burials in Elmwood
  • Find A Grave: Burials in Elmwood
  • Elmwood Cemetery
  • Tales from the Crypts: Elmwood Cemetery stories (The Detroit News)
  • Michigan Historical Markers: Elmwood Cemetery
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