Westview Cemetery, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is the largest civilian cemetery in the Southeastern United States, comprising more than 582 acres (2.36 km2), 50 percent of which is undeveloped. The cemetery includes the graves of more than 125,000 people and was added to the Georgia Register of Historic Places in 2019 and the National Register of Historic Places in 2020.[1]

Westview Cemetery
Westview Cemetery Abbey in distance
EstablishedOctober of 1884
1680 Westview Drive, SW, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Coordinates33°44′46″N 84°26′35″W / 33.746162°N 84.443142°W / 33.746162; -84.443142
Size582 acres (2.36 km2)
No. of graves125,000+
Find a GraveWestview Cemetery



McBurney era (1884–1930)

View of grave stones in cemetery

In May 1884, twenty-seven leading Atlanta citizens, including L.P. Grant, Edward P. McBurney, Jacob Elsas, H.I. Kimball and L. DeGive, petitioned the Superior Court of Fulton County to create the West View Cemetery Association. The association was to be led by secretary and general manager McBurney, who was a capitalist and financier in Atlanta. The petition was granted in June, and during the rest of the year members of the Association gathered approximately 577 acres of farms, homesteads, and undeveloped land, around four miles west of downtown Atlanta, from more than a handful of owners.

View of Burford Holly.

The cemetery buried its first resident – Helen Livingston Haskins – on October 9, 1884. By this time, the cemetery had opened three distinct sections: the main burial sections, originally known as Laurel Hill, Terrace Hill, etc.; Rest Haven, an African-American section; and God’s Acre, a pauper section used by the City of Atlanta until 1925. In 1888, West View Cemetery opened a permanent receiving vault that was built into the side of a hill in Section 4. It would serve as a temporary storage space for bodies until families could pick out a suitable burial plot or, in winter, store a body until the cemetery grounds were thawed and traversable by horse-drawn carriages.

In 1889, a Confederate sculpture was erected, and a burial ground was established within West View to commemorate the Confederate dead of the American Civil War. The statue and burial ground completion ended years of failed attempts to memorialize the war, specifically the Battle of Ezra Church, part of which had taken place on the northern boundaries of the cemetery. In the same year, cemetery officials had discussions with a Jewish congregation about opening a dedicated Jewish burial ground within the cemetery: ultimately the congregations purchased new sections from Oakland Cemetery in downtown Atlanta instead. The Romanesque Revival gatehouse opened the following year. It was designed by architect Walter T. Downing and contained a waiting room, toilets, and a secretary’s office.

The Westview Floral Company, incorporated in 1891, grew flowers at greenhouses on the cemetery property for sale to lot holders and to the public. It also carried out contracted landscape gardening for wealthy Atlantans – be it at their homes or businesses. The Company became the largest greenhouse operator in the south until it was closed. All its structures were removed from the cemetery by 1973. The only two items from the greenhouses that still exist are the 110-foot-high water tower, built in 1921, and a plant that was discovered circa 1895 on the property by then head gardener Thomas Burford – the Ilex cornuta “Burfordii,” or Burford holly. It is now sold the world over as a landscape shrub.

Adair leadership (1930–1933)


In August 1930 the West View Cemetery Association announced to the public that E.P. McBurney would no longer run the cemetery; it would instead be headed by Atlanta real-estate mogul Frank Adair, with his brother, Forrest, acting as vice president. Coca-Cola scion Asa Candler Jr. would serve as the association's board president and help guide the cemetery behind the scenes. However, three years later, the Great Depression was in full swing and affected the Adair brothers’ hold on West View. As such, in June 1933, the Adairs relinquished control of West View, and Candler took full control of the cemetery.

Candler era (1930–1952)

Front façade of Westview Abbey
Westview Abbey's south side.

Between 1940 and 1950 Candler constructed his version of Hubert L. Eaton’s memorial park at West View, the Garden of Memories. In 1943, construction started on Westview Abbey. Designed by California-based architect Clarence Lee Jay and mausoleum builder Cecil E. Bryan, the abbey contains 11,444 crypts and is designed in the Spanish Plateresque architectural style. The structure is composed of a mausoleum and an administration building. The mausoleum's lower and main floors are complete, but much of the third floor has yet to be built out.

Lake Palmyra was completed just southwest of the abbey in 1947. Named after Palmyra, the biblical “city of palms” in Syria, Lake Palmyra had at one time a stone pier and, along one of its shores, one of four known versions of Harriet Hosmer's Zenobia in Chains, which had been purchased by Asa Candler in 1943. The lake was drained in the 1970s because of maintenance issues and Zenobia was removed from the grounds.

Between 1947 and 1948 Candler built an administration building that partly wrapped around the greenhouse's 1921 water tower. It contained offices, a reception room, a cafeteria and restrooms. It also contained Asa Candler Jr.’s trophy room, billed as one of the largest private trophy rooms in North America, which showcased trophies from Candler’s hunts in Alaska, Africa and elsewhere. The structure was demolished in 1973 and many of the animal specimens were donated to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

Candler unveiled the Fountain of Life Memorial in 1950. The memorial consisted of a fountain and a bas-relief depiction of the Last Supper sculpted by Fritz Paul Zimmer. The sculpture still exists, but the fountain was removed a few decades later.

West View becomes Westview


Due to advancing age and mounting legal issues, Candler sold West View to Lou O. Minear, Chester J. Sparks and Grover A. Godfrey Jr. in 1951. It was at that time that “West View” became “Westview.” The new owners sold the cemetery to Frank C. Bowen and Raymond B. Nelson in 1952. That year, Westview Cemetery, Inc. was liquidated and all its assets were transferred to The Westview Cemetery, Inc., which became a nonprofit.

Bowen era (1952–present)


Throughout the mid-1950s and into the 1960s, Bowen added eight new memorial park-style sections, such as Garden of Devotion, Garden of the Savior, etc.

In 1970, the cemetery, under Bowen’s guidance, officially ended segregation within the main grounds of the property. Additionally, during that decade, there were talks of finishing out the third floor of Westview Abbey. A small portion was completed, but three-fourths remain to be finished.

In 1975, Westview staff moved into a new administration building designed by Henry Howard Smith, the son of famed Atlanta architect Francis Palmer Smith. The new building sits near the old 1890 gatehouse along Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. A year prior to the move, Frank Bowen had ceded operations of the cemetery to his son, Charles Bowen Sr.

1907 postcard of Westview's 1890 gatehouse

During the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, Bowen Sr. and Westview opened a couple of columbaria and expanded the maintenance structures. After nearly forty years Bowen Sr. relinquished control of the cemetery to his son, Charles Bowen Jr, in 2014. Later that year, the cemetery celebrated its 130th anniversary and welcomed the publication of John Bayne’s book Atlanta’s Westview Cemetery.

The following year, Westview Cemetery opened its grounds for regularly scheduled walking tours conducted by Atlanta Preservation Center tour guides. Because of the cemetery’s size, two tours were developed – the Nineteenth-Century Tour and the Candler-Era Tour.

A year later, Westview officials created the Friends of Historic Westview Cemetery, which plans the rehabilitation of Westview’s 1890 gatehouse – offering public restrooms, a museum and gift shop.

In 2018, Jeff Clemmons’s Atlanta’s Historic Westview Cemetery was published. With the support of the Atlanta Preservation Center, Clemmons got the cemetery added to the Georgia Register of Historic Places (2019) and the National Register of Historic Places (2020).

Westview Cemetery remains an active cemetery with up to eight burials a day. It has become popular with Hollywood: filmmakers are at the cemetery throughout the year, filming features and television shows.[2][3][4]


Interior of Florence Candler Chapel, Westview Cemetery
  • Westview Abbey – a mausoleum and chapel, was built in 1943 and houses 11,444 entombments and space to hold cremated remains. Twenty-seven stained glass panels adorn the Spanish Gothic-style chapel and depict Jesus Christ's life from nativity through crucifixion and resurrection. A mural entitled Faith, Hope and Charity and several other paintings by Bartholomew Mako also adorn the space. More than 72 stained glass windows appear throughout the entire mausoleum.
  • The Receiving Tomb – was built in 1888 and once held bodies waiting to be processed and buried. Wagons, and in later years vehicles, carrying the deceased could not get down the muddy cemetery roads during heavy rains. The marble and brick receiving tomb was also used to house bodies during the Spanish influenza outbreak in 1918.[5]
  • The Water Tower – was built in 1921 and may be mistaken for a battlefield look-out point but was only used to hold water. The top of the tower is an example of a crenellated adornment, making it look more like a castle than the roof of a water tower.
  • The Confederate Memorial – was erected in 1889 by The Confederate Veterans Association of Fulton County to honor its fallen soldiers. The monument features a stone soldier standing on top of small cannonballs. Two Cohorn mortars lie just beyond a circle of Confederate graves and mark a path leading to the historic monument.

Notable interments


Former interments


Atlanta University President Edmund Asa Ware was buried in a plot that straddled the then-segregated white and African-American sections of the cemetery in 1885. His body was moved to a memorial on the A.U. campus nine years later.[44] Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. was buried at Westview when he died in 2003,[45] but he was reinterred at Oakland Cemetery in 2009.[46]



The cemetery is located at 1680 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30310.

See also





  1. ^ Westview Home, Westview Cemetery, retrieved 2009-01-28
  2. ^ Clemmons 2018.
  3. ^ Bayne, John Soward (2014). Atlanta's Westview Cemetery. Self published: Vanity Press. ISBN 978-1312271043. Retrieved May 25, 2021 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ The History of Westview, Westview Cemetery, archived from the original on January 3, 2012, retrieved January 28, 2009
  5. ^ "Atlanta, Georgia and the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic | The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia". www.influenzaarchive.org. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  6. ^ Clemmons 2018, p. 159.
  7. ^ Society for American Baseball Research
  8. ^ Baseball-Reference
  9. ^ a b c d e Clemmons 2018, p. 161.
  10. ^ United States Congress. "BIGBY, John Summerfield, (1832–1898) (id: B000452)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Clemmons 2018, p. 162.
  12. ^ United States Congress. "COHEN, John Sanford (id: C000597)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Clemmons 2018, p. 163.
  14. ^ The Aerodrome
  15. ^ a b c Clemmons 2018, p. 164.
  16. ^ Clemmons 2018, p. 165.
  17. ^ Rylands, Traci. "Atlanta's Other Golf Great: The Mysterious Death of J. Douglas Edgar". Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  18. ^ The Augusta Chronicle
  19. ^ "Y. F. Freeman Dies; Movie Executive". Atlanta Constitution. 7 February 1969. p. 41. Retrieved September 10, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  20. ^ a b c d e Clemmons 2018, p. 166.
  21. ^ Clemmons 2018, p. 28.
  22. ^ a b c d e Clemmons 2018, p. 167.
  23. ^ Clemmons 2018, p. 150.
  24. ^ "Daniel Hickey Dies; Columnist and Poet". Atlanta Constitution. July 20, 1976. p. 2C. Retrieved September 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ a b Westview Cemetery History
  26. ^ The Selma Times
  27. ^ a b c d Clemmons 2018, p. 169.
  28. ^ a b Clemmons 2018, p. 170.
  29. ^ Gardner, Sarah E. (May 9, 2003). "Helen Dortch Longstreet (1863-1962)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  30. ^ a b c d e Clemmons 2018, p. 171.
  31. ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  32. ^ "William A. Paschal". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. May 26, 2003. Retrieved September 10, 2018 – via Legacy.com.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g Clemmons 2018, p. 173.
  34. ^ a b c Clemmons 2018, p. 174.
  35. ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  36. ^ "J.R. Smith Services Today; Southern Airways Co-Pilot". The Atlanta Constitution. November 18, 1970. p. 9B – via newspapers.com.
  37. ^ a b Clemmons 2018, p. 175.
  38. ^ "Strickler Funeral Set for Today". The Atlanta Constitution. 1953-07-25. p. 14. Retrieved 2024-02-16 – via Newspapers.com. 
  39. ^ a b c d e Clemmons 2018, p. 176.
  40. ^ a b c Clemmons 2018, p. 177.
  41. ^ Suggs, Ernie; Stafford, Leon (July 23, 2020). "We loved Dr. C.T. Vivian". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on July 25, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  42. ^ United States Congress. "WHELCHEL, Benjamin Frank (id: W000343)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  43. ^ "About the Foundation - Robert W. Woodruff". Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  44. ^ Clemmons 2018, p. 34.
  45. ^ Bruner, Tasgola Karla (July 7, 2003). "Ivan Allen Jr. 1911-2003: Voice of unity warmly recalled". Atlanta Constitution. pp. B1–B2. Retrieved September 11, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. Allen's funeral will be at 2 p.m. today at the First Presbyterian Church....Burial will follow at Westview Cemetery.
  46. ^ Sweeney, Kate (March 2, 2014). "The cemetery's cemetery". Atlanta Constitution. pp. E1, E10. Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018. For a long time there was a dispute over the number of Atlanta mayors buried at Oakland....Former Mayor Ivan Allen was moved here from another cemetery in 2009.