Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit

Created in 1849 in the same period as many other rural cemetery movement burial grounds were founded throughout America, Elmwood Cemetery was inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, which we looked at back in October of 2022.

It’s the oldest still existing non-denominational cemetery in Detroit, and it lies to the northeast of downtown in what was probably the country at the time, but is now deep within the city.

While Frederick Law Olmstead is famous and highly influential, he is often credited with designing places that he didn’t actually do! In this case, he really did help redesign and leave his mark on the grounds of Elmwood in 1890.

Mausolea are tucked into a sort of “valley of monuments” which create an interesting monumental vista.

In fact, and I’m not sure I photographed it, there is in fact a creek valley where a British military unit was massacred during the Pontiac Uprising.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. John S Guenther says:

    great pictures, Assume from all the detroit and other michigan pictures that your located there maybe? I joined the St Louis Patina becaue of a posting on the remnants of WW2 St Louis Ammunition plant that was operating in WW2 and as late as Vietnam. My father worked there in WW2 so that interested me. Again thx for sahring.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      John, you know me personally. We’ve gone out to lunch with Ron Elz at Cunnetto’s and we’ve shared the stage at the Missouri History Museum on multiple occasions. I live in St. Louis, and 4,670 of the posts on this website deal with St. Louis’s and its surrounding counties’ architecture and history.


      Chris Naffziger

  2. Dorris says:

    I see a lot of similarities to Bellefontaine Cemetery and the Arboretum in St. Louis. How many acres is Elmwood and how many are buried there?

    1. cnaffziger says:

      86 acres and at least almost 26,000 burials

      And yes, it does have many similarities to Bellefontaine as they were both founded as part of the rural cemetery movement that began before the Civil War.

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