Community History __Featured Slider — 03 March 2012
Out of the Attic: Establishing Ivy Hill Cemetery

In the early 19th century, the Alexandria Common Council prohibited opening new cemeteries. As a result, many churches established new burial grounds in a cluster along Wilkes Street. Around the same time, about a mile beyond Alexandria’s city limits, another site was being used as a family burial ground. But in the mid-1850s, this location, northwest of town, became Ivy Hill Cemetery.

In 1854, a group of proprietors organized a new cemetery to be initially funded by stock sales. In June, a site of about 23 acres, described by a local paper as a “beautiful tract of land,” was selected. At the time, plans called for the new cemetery to have a keeper’s house, chapel and receiving vault. For each $25 share, subscribers would be entitled to a lot, but with no more than four lots per person, and the sale of other lots would fund improvements.

In March 1855, once the sale was finalized, stockholders met and elected a president and board of directors. At that point, nearly 80 burial lots had already been sold at this new cemetery on a hillside near Timber Branch, but it was not officially called Ivy Hill Cemetery until later that year.

On June 18, 1856, Ivy Hill Cemetery was formally dedicated in a ceremony featuring hymns and prayers. Guests could take advantage of a special horse-drawn omnibus, which departed from the corner of King and Washington streets every 15 minutes that day. On November 17, 1856, Ivy Hill dedicated a monument near the entrance in memory of seven firefighters killed a year earlier. Several members of the Alexandria Fire Department have been buried there since, including the recently departed Joshua Weissman.

This early 20th-century photograph shows the main Ivy Hill building that still stands today at 2823 King St.

Out of the Attic is provided by the Office of Historic Alexandria.

Related Articles


About Author

Alexandria Times Staff

(0) Readers Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *