Hollywood Stars

Monday, March 26, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Richmond, VA to Williamsburg, VA

We couldn't leave Richmond without a visit to the famed Hollywood Cemetery.  Named for its profusion of holly trees, this noted burial ground overlooking the James River opened in 1849 and is the final resting place for two U.S. Presidents, the only Confederate President, 22 Confederate generals, and more than 18,000 Confederate soldiers.  Our first stop was the cemetery office near the entrance where we obtained a beautiful, full-color map for $1 with a driving tour of noted locations.  A blue line painted along the edge of the road helps visitors follow the route.

In 1867, the women of the Hollywood Memorial Association raised $25,000 to erect Richmond's first memorial to the enlisted men who died for the Confederate cause.  The 90-foot pyramid of James River granite (pictured above) was constructed without mortar.  Legend has it that the crane used in the monument's construction was inadequate to set the capstone.  When no one responded to the call for men to climb the pyramid and manually guide the capstone into place, a local prisoner volunteered and was given his freedom after he succeeded.    
Among its rolling hills and winding roads, the pinnacle of Hollywood is President's Circle, where James Monroe and John Tyler are buried within 50 feet of each other.  The last chief executive who was a member of the Founding Fathers, Monroe died and was buried in New York, but his remains were later brought to Richmond.  His tomb is an elaborate cast iron cage sheltering a simple granite gravestone. 
Tyler Grave (L) & Monroe Monument (R)
Shortly before President John Tyler, an ardent secessionist, died in 1862, he had been elected to the Confederate Congress.  Because of his allegiance to the Confederacy, Tyler is the only President in history whose death was not recognized in Washington.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis ensured that Tyler was entombed in a place of honor near the respected James Monroe.

Davis Memorial
When Davis himself died in 1889, he was interred in New Orleans where he had been residing.  Four years later, Davis's wife decided to transfer his remains to Richmond.  After the exhumation, the remains lay in state in Louisiana for a day where a steady stream of mourners paid their respects.  When the coffin was transported on a special train from New Orleans to Richmond, a continuous cortege formed beside the tracks as Southerners paid their respects one last time to their deceased leader.

Among its hills and valleys, Hollywood Cemetery also shelters the remains of two Supreme Court justices, six Virginia governors, authors, and other notable citizens, as well as men, women and children from all walks of life.  Each had a unique life story, and someone cared enough about each of these people to secure their final resting place in this historic and hallowed graveyard.

  • Miles driven: 93 
  • Weather: 60° to 72°, heavy pollen 
  • States today: 1 (VA)
  • Letterboxes found: 3
  • Size of Hollywood Cemetery:  135 acres
  • Burials:  60,000+
  • Cost of burial in President's Circle:  $10,000
  • Burial elsewhere in the cemetery:  $1,500