Sometimes the best-kept history secrets are buried six feet below. While it’s fun to visit locations where significant, historical events took place, most history enthusiasts will tell you that the best-hidden treasures of the past are found at gravesites. That’s why numerous visitors visit Old City Cemetery Museums & Arboretum each year.
The plot for Old City Cemetery, also known as the Methodist Cemetery, was originally owned by the city’s founder, John Lynch. He donated the land for public burial in 1806. Since then, numerous notable Lynchburg citizens and politicians have been interred there.
The property also contains historical buildings as well, including:
The Pest House (House of Pestilence): This two-room medical office that was Lynchburg’s first hospital, and used to quarantine patients who were battling contagious diseases like scarlet fever or smallpox, especially during the Civil War. It’s original location was on the edge of town, but has since been moved to its permanent home in Old City Cemetery.
Hearse House: In this exhibit you will find a horse-drawn hearse housed in the second oldest funeral home in the United States. The hearse, known as the Thornhill Wagon, was made specifically for the cemetery in the early 20th century.
Station House: Originally located in Amherst County, this WW1-era depot was moved to Old City Cemetery to show the strong connection between Lynchburg and the railways.
In addition to these sites, you will also find a chapel and a museum dedicated to early 19th and 20th-century mourning traditions.
Who You’ll Find
Throughout the centuries, the Old City Cemetery has housed the final remains of individuals from all backgrounds. Here are some gravesites you may come across:
- First townspeople and the original settlers
- Notable Lynchburg Citizens, like Lottie Stratton and Maria Wilson
- Enslaved and free African Americans from the 19th century
- Unknown transients passing through the City
- Confederate Soldiers
- Veterans from American Revolution to Vietnam