Hollywood Cemetery - Richmond, VA

Hollywood Cemetery, hidden away in Oregon Hill Richmond, Virginia, is filled with history and legend, and a great place to wander with a camera.

Credits: kingnate

I find myself returning to Hollywood Cemetery for inspiration and for meditation and I recall the years I have spent here, the memories placed here, and I think how fitting a graveyard may be for such storage space, like old stones I can revisit. The shadows stretch and reach out as the afternoon passes.

Credits: kingnate

A favorite memory: once, I laid here on top of a grave with a friend, pretending to be those six feet below us and living in a different time. The James River flowed by the railroad tracks and we looked out across its water, now as brother and sister instead of just college acquaintances.

Credits: kingnate

I walk through the cemetery and I got lost, though not frightened; many angels guide my way. The paths, labeled like neighborhood streets, wander around the green hills and branch off to many directions. First I turn left, then I take right, and I realize no trip to Hollywood Cemetery can be identical to a prior visit, just like the hundreds of lives housed within the tombs, all individual. There will always be something new to see.

Credits: kingnate
Credits: kingnate

Hollywood Cemetery holds two United States presidents, James Monroe, and John Tyler. Their graves overlook the James River on President’s Circle. Monroe’s grave is an elegant gothic-style centerpiece to the area. Another notable grave and piece of art is the pyramid constructed as a memorial to honor confederate enlisted men. Nearby, there are fields of small unmarked graves, their aged surfaces melancholic.

Credits: kingnate

History is not the only thing that dwells within the graves; so does legend. The Richmond Vampire is rumored to dwell within Hollywood Cemetery. The nearby Church Hill Tunnel collapsed in 1925, burying those inside alive. Witnesses said they saw a man-like creature with peeled flesh and jagged teeth crawl from the wreckage. Upon pursuit, the man fled to a mausoleum in Hollywood Cemetery.

Credits: kingnate

Another unique myth is that of a little girl and a dog. A small grave stands upon a hillside, an alcove carved into the stone where passersby leave tiny treasures, marbles, coins, and flowers for a girl who never got to grow up. Behind the grave, a black iron watchdog stands, always protecting his little girl, diligently standing guard. During a visit, I snapped a Polaroid photo of the dog and left it with the items on her grave.

Credits: kingnate

My independent study in school focused on super8 film and I decided to use the opportunity to respond to another class I was taking – Death: Myth and Reality. For the project, I returned once more to Hollywood Cemetery, on a rainy morning, filming the graves with Ektachrome 100 and contemplating my mortality.

Consider – a photograph, how it simultaneously reaffirms both life and death. How it immortalizes forever.

Credits: kingnate

written by kingnate on 2011-10-31 in #world #locations

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