Green Lawn Cemetery
Just south of downtown Columbus is one of Franklin County’s best-known historical birding hotspots, Green Lawn Cemetery. I’ve been there quite a few times- for both birding and studying the interesting trees, mausoleums and gravestones.
Founded in 1848, the facility covers over 360 acres (1.5 km2) and contains nearly 150,000 interments.
Green Lawn Cemetery is a large and historically significant burial ground in Central Ohio, United States. Located in the southern section of Columbus, Ohio (at the western terminus of Greenlawn Avenue), it is the final resting place for many local notables and well-known figures from national history. Green Lawn was the most fashionable and sought after final address in Columbus, and maintains that reputation today.
Colonel Eddie Rickenbacker, WWI ace and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Columbus- it is fitting he rests here. His grave is often decorated, with many people leaving tokens such as toy airplanes on his headstone.
The crypts span the breadth of late-Victorian and turn-of-the-century architectural movements, including some styled in the Mesopotamian–Egyptian style favored during the burst of “Egyptian mania” enjoyed after Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun ‘s tomb in 1922. Some of the largest family crypts that can be seen are those of the Hayden, Battelle, and Packard families. Also entombed here with their own private burial plots surrounding the central crypt is the Lazarus family, the patriarchal line that founded and ran the popular department store chains known as the F&R Lazarus & Company, the John Shillito Company, and Federated Department Stores.
The Hayden family mausoleum is spectacular
Some crypts hold specific individuals, houses for the dead
There are specialized burial areas similar to those found in many other large cemeteries. Specifically, there is “Lullabye Land” where stillborns and infant deaths are laid to rest. There are six distinct areas for war veterans, each one a section dedicated to a specific American war and including the oldest section towards the western rear of the cemetery for Civil War veterans of Ohio infantry battalions. A monument is erected towards the westernmost boundary for the “Soldiers and Sailors” memorial movement.
The center building of the cemetery is the mausoleum and chapel. This building was originally erected in 1902, and then was subsequently added to with an additional wing and carillon bells in the 1960s. Here can be found intricate precious-stone mosaics on the walls and stained-glass windows commissioned by the board of trustees of the Tiffany glassworks studio.
Changes to Columbus growth patterns, and demographics have reshaped the cemetery. Once located in the rural outskirts of Columbus, the cemetery is now surrounded by residential neighborhoods, industrial facilities and Cooper Stadium (the home of the AAA Columbus Clippers baseball team until 2008). This has shifted the main entrance of Green Lawn away from the western, Brown Road (Near US Route 62) Gate to the eastern gate on Greenlawn Avenue.
There are all sorts of unique grave markers here. Signs and symbols abound. It can be fun to investigate what all of the symbolism means- for instance, some grave markers resemble trees, and have a Woodmen of the World badge on them. There was a time when people belonged to organizations that would see to their burial so that they did not have to worry about the expense or lack of mourners.
WoodmenLife (officially Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society) is a fraternal benefit society based in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, that operates a large privately held insurance company for its members.
The history of this organization includes the erection of numerous distinctive tombstones depicting tree stumps across the country before 1930, a program to donate American flags, and broadcast interests that were to own the first television station where Johnny Carson worked.
The Lamb of God is a prevalent Christian symbol from a certain era
This gentleman is portrayed fishing, a hobby he must have dearly enjoyed
There are even some Greco-Roman style tombs
Green Lawn was intended by the board of trustees overseeing it to be not just a cemetery but also a significant city park and public gathering area, as was intended for all cemeteries of the “rural cemetery” movement of the 1840s and 1850s. To this effect, the cemetery is a large sprawling complex, incorporating over 25 miles (40 km) of roads, paths, and lanes. It has arbors and a butterfly preserve, and at its central pond (also known as “The Pit Pond”) is a recognized Audubon Society viewing site.
There’s plenty of natural sites to be seen among all of the history
It’s definitely worth a trip out to see the cemetery, whether you are interested in nature, history, art, or just a pleasant stroll.