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Knox County Old Gray Cemetery, Knoxville

Categories: Cemeteries, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
3.7/5 based on 45+ reviews on the web
Old Gray Cemetery is the second-oldest cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Established in 1850, the 13.47acre cemetery contains the graves of some of Knoxville's most influential citizens, ranging from politicians and soldiers, to artists and activists. The cemetery is also noted for the Victorian era marble sculpture and elaborate carvings adorning many of the grave markers and headstones. In 1996, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places.Named for English poet Thomas Gray (1716–1771), Old Gray Cemetery is an example of a so-called garden cemetery, a mid-19th century style that sought the transition of graveyards from urban churchyards to quiet suburban plots. Unlike its crowded predecessor, the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Old Gray features spacious graves, grand monuments, and extensive vegetation, and its layout bears more resemblance to a public park. Playwright Tennessee Williams mentions Old Gray in his short story, "The Man in the Overstuffed Chair," and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Peter Taylor alludes to the cemetery in his book, In the Tennessee Country. The cemetery was simply known as "Gray Cemetery" until 1892, when "New" Gray Cemetery was established about a mile away.HistoryBy the 1840s, the garden cemetery movement, driven largely by the fame of Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery, had gained popularity in France, England, and the United States, as planners in various large cities began building larger, more elaborate cemeteries in their respective cities' outskirts and suburbs. During this period, Knoxville's leaders sought such a cemetery for Knoxville, as many had incorrectly believed the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery (near the center of town) had caused a deadly epidemic in 1838. In February 1850, a board of trustees, led by East Tennessee University president William B. Reese, was appointed to buy land and sell lots for a new cemetery.
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  • Great Old Cemetery to visit, but be warned of the homeless and trash left there.... I have always wanted to visit this old cemetery, but was leery after reading about the homeless being there and how ...  read more »
  • After visiting the adjacent National Cemetery, this old historic cemetery containing resting places of many important local and state people was disappointing to say the least. Firstly, the grass need...  read more »
  • I'm as sympathetic as the next person, but do the homeless people really have to LIVE here? It is within walking distance of the Mission District (yes, it does exist) and the city is overwhelmed with ...  read more »
  • Unbelievably beautiful historic cemetery in downtown Knoxville. Wonderful headstones, vaults, monuments and obelisks. Resting place of many prominent Knoxvillians.
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