Old City Cemetery

Historical Significance

The Old City Cemetery, originally referred to as the Methodist Cemetery, was established as a public burial ground in 1806. The land was donated by John Lynch and today contains over 20,000 gravesites.

The Old City Cemetery was the primary burial site for African Americans in Lynchburg from 1806 to 1865. Over 75% of the thousands of men and women buried in the cemetery are African American. Between 1806 and 1895, the City Cemetery was the only burial ground, other than private family graveyards, open to African Americans in the Lynchburg area. It has been estimated that 90% of Lynchburg's free and enslaved African Americans are buried in the Old City Cemetery. The Southern Memorial Association hosts a website that includes a 22-page essay on "Black History in the Old City Cemetery." These entries include biographies of some of the individuals buried in the cemetery, including female proprietors of local businesses, teachers and principals, politicians, undertakers, college presidents, and many more successful occupations.

The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. 

Physical Description

There is no entrance fee to visit the cemetery and it is open 365 days a year, between dawn and dusk. There are several small museums on the property: the Mourning Museum, the Pest House, Hearse House, Station House, and Chapel. The cemetery website provides details on the hours of operation for these features. An outdoor exhibit recreates an historic African-American burial that borrows from African traditions.

Geographical and Contact Information

4th and Taylor Streets; 12th & Church Streets
Lynchburg, Virginia
24504
Phone: 804-847-1811

Images

 Old City Cemetery Marker

Old City Cemetery Marker

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Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Old City Cemetery,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed November 18, 2017, http://www.aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/318.

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