The Rapidian

Walking tour of the historic Oakhill Cemetery on city's Southeast Side starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18

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Limestone momument at Oakhill Cemetery marking 1899 grave of Mrs. Dell Colby Kendall, wife of David W. Kendall

Limestone momument at Oakhill Cemetery marking 1899 grave of Mrs. Dell Colby Kendall, wife of David W. Kendall /Grand Rapids Public Library

Take a fascinating trip to the resting places of some of the most important men and women in the history of Grand Rapids and the elaborate stone monuments honoring them when the Grand Rapids Historical Society tours historic Oakhill Cemetery starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18.

Opened in 1859 at Hall Street and Eastern Avenue SE, the cemetery is considered the grandest of the city's rural garden cemeteries. Here are buried many of the most important players in the history of Grand Rapids who built the city and its industries during a time of phenomenal growth.

The garden cemetery offers a far more relaxed, welcoming park-like arrangement of burial spaces compared to the previously popular rigid rows and individualized plots. The garden cemetery movement that swept the eastern United States between 1830 and 1900 introduced curved drives and vistas in larger, family-oriented lots intended to serve a single family for generations. It also welcomed for the first time, larger, more decorative markers and monuments on graves, which allowed lot owners to memorialize their families and to satisfy the seemingly insatiable Victorian appetite for elaborate and sometimes ostentatious displays.

With Thomas R. Dilley and Jennifer Morrison as our hosts, the free walking tour will encompass only a part of the southern edge of Oakhill Cemetery, formerly known as the Valley City portion. 

Join us for this intriguing look into the city's past and into the lives of occupants resting at Oakhill Cemetery. Learn the stories behind the numerous historic art and architectural monuments that are preserved in stone for us for all time.

In case of severe weather, the rain date is 10 a.m. Sunday, September 19. Cancellation will be announced on Grand Rapids Historical Society’s Facebook page.  

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