This is a revised and expanded version of a story originally run in the Courier in June of 2016. At that time the Cobb County Courier was called River Edges, and covered both sides of the river. With the Chattahoochee RiverLands project now in full swing, we intend to to some coverage of both sides of the river again. Hollywood Cemetery is just south of Proctor Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee.
This is the fifth installment in a series of articles on the history and current state of Atlanta’s Hollywood Cemetery.
In 1910 the City of Atlanta considered purchasing Hollywood Cemetery to use as a municipal cemetery. The city already owned Oakland Cemetery, but a large percentage of the burial lots at Oakland had been sold. Further, Oakland was located between the Grant Park neighborhood, Cabbagetown, Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, and the railroad tracks, so there was no room for expansion.
In 1910 Hollywood Cemetery was owned by the Charles P. Glover Real Estate Company. The attorney from that company had begun negotiations with the city, and according to an Atlanta Constitution article published on March 26, 1910, the city council was sympathetic to the plan.
At that point the property owner stated that 5,000 lots had been sold at the cemetery, and there had been 2,700 burials.
The Glover company proposed that they first sell the property to the city for $1, and that they later be paid $100,000 after a bond issue. The company also offered to be undertake $15,000 dollars in improvements, either at the company’s immediate expense, or to be deducted from their payment from the bond.
In 1910, Hollywood Cemetery was outside the city limits of Atlanta, in unincorporated Fulton County. The county had already agreed to make improvements to Hollywood Road which ran through the cemetery. It was an ideal location for a city-owned cemetery in some ways. The surrounding area was sparsely populated, with few neighbors to complain about the cemetery. Since the cemetery had already been operating for 20 years, the existing community had little grounds for protest.
Another selling point was the street car line, which ran through the cemetery, and already had funeral cars to accommodate coffins and mourners.
The Atlanta Georgian, a Hearst paper, announced on October 5 1911, that Hollywood Cemetery and Rose Hill Cemetery (not the cemetery in Austell, but one adjacent to the larger Hollwood Cemetery) had merged, and planned to spend $20,000 in improvements.
The combined company was headed by Dr. S.W. Foster. But the remained for sale, and the city was still the primary prospective buyer.
But before the decision could be made, offers for other potential locations had to be considered, and the aldermen and council members were required to approve any purchase plan. The city spent the next two years seeking out bids for their new municipal cemetery. By the time they had finished their search, a half dozen property owners had submitted proposals.
Several alternative sites were seriously considered, including a site just north of Hapeville on Stewart Avenue (now Metropolitan Parkway), a property near the Mayson-Turner ferry (the old Bankhead Highway, now Hollowell Parkway), and a parcel of land known as the Thomas property north of the city on Piedmont Avenue, nearly adjacent to Piedmont Park. Several other tracts were added to the mix as the city’s cemetery commission and the cemetery committee of the city council assembled its deliberations to make recommendations.
By June 12, 1912 the three finalists were Hollywood Cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery on Cascade Avenue, and the Thomas property on Piedmont. The neighbors of the proposed Thomas site raised strenuous objections, so it was dropped from the list. By 1912, according to the June 12 Atlanta Constitution, the city already tended to make improvements to the northern edges of the city, and to put undesirable facilities on the southside. Cemeteries were considered undesirable neighbors.
But all the bids were ultimately rejected, and Oakland Cemetery remained Atlanta’s only municipal cemetery. Newspaper accounts of the rejection of the purchase of Hollywood Cemetery said that the city would consider searching for a second city cemetery, but the search was evidently not successful.