Columbia Gardens Cemetery

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Columbia Gardens Cemetery
Columbia Gardens Cemetery - sign.JPG
Sign at the entrance to the cemetery
Columbia Gardens Cemetery is located in District of Columbia
Columbia Gardens Cemetery
Location 3411 Arlington Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia
Coordinates 38°52′26″N 77°05′25″W / 38.87389°N 77.09028°W / 38.87389; -77.09028Coordinates: 38°52′26″N 77°05′25″W / 38.87389°N 77.09028°W / 38.87389; -77.09028
Built 1917
Part of Ashton Heights Historic District (#03000561[2])
NRHP Reference # [1]

The Columbia Gardens Cemetery is a cemetery located in the Ashton Heights Historic District of Arlington, Virginia


The Columbia Gardens Cemetery is located at the southern boundary of the Ashton Heights Historic District and is one of its most prominent features.

The cemetery was created by the Alexandria Park Association, incorporated in 1914 in Huntington, West Virginia. The president of the association was Colonel Robert Dye, former superintendent of the Arlington National Cemetery, and its principal founder was Julius Broh. Another founder was Harry Randolph Thomas, great-grandfather of the current president, Daun Thomas Frankland. The Thomas family has been responsible for the cemetery since it opened in 1917.

In the proposal to the Arlington County Board, the Association indicated the intent to "make a place that will be attractive as a park and a credit to the county."[3]

Graves at the cemetery

Having won approval from the County, in November 1917, the Association's board of directors employed a landscape architect from Cleveland, Ohio, a Mr. Jenney, to prepare the design, specifications, and methods of procedure for operating a cemetery.

The Columbia Gardens Cemetery is an example of merging landscape design and city planning based on the principles set down in the late 19th century by designers such as Frederick Law Olmsted and subsequently developed by the City Beautiful movement. However, as opposed to the linear plans advocated by City Beautiful for urban design, Jenney preferred a more rural cemetery design, with winding roads and natural landscape features.

The "park" initially encompassed nearly thirty-eight adjoining acres, with an option to purchase an additional thirty acres.[1] The Columbia Gardens Cemetery has been family operated for four generations. At present it is one of the few cemeteries in the Northern Virginia area offering available burial sites with the option of an upright monument. Other options range from columbarium niches to family mausoleums.

Upon entering the main gates on Arlington Boulevard, a main alley crosses a rose garden beyond which lie the winding alleys of the cemetery, providing a natural setting of dignity and grace for reflection on loved ones who have gone before.[4]

The mausoleum in honor of Admiral of the Navy George Dewey, in which his body lay until its removal to the crypt of the Bethlehem Chapel of the Washington National Cathedral, was removed in 1933 and is at present located near the entrance of the cemetery where it is used as a public receiving vault.[5]


Columbia Gardens Cemetery now has a very active presence on Facebook[6] and Instagram.[7] The cemetery has kept a seemingly low profile in social networking in the past, management is moving to update technology and how it interacts with the changing demographic of the Metro DC community. While many people have passed its long red brick wall for many years without ever realizing the expansive property inside its borders, others have the idea the cemetery is full. Still possessing several undeveloped acres and plans for a new area for cremation niches, management has also found much property previously believed to be unavailable.

Notable burials[edit]


Columbia Gardens Memorials[edit]

Memorials on display at Columbia Gardens Memorials

The territory of the cemetery also hosts the Columbia Gardens Memorials, a workshop established in 1964. It specializes in crafting monuments and is owned by Robert Thomas, graduate of the Elberton Granite Institute in Georgia

Columbia Gardens is the only memorial company to employ a craftsman skilled in the almost lost art of hand-cut, V-tooled lettering. It also was the first to use on-premises diamond etching for highly detailed duplication of artwork and stencil press machines for more even and consistent lettering.

Columbia Gardens Memorials has crafted memorials for Joe Louis, Matthew Henson, Charles Bates "Tex" Thornton, Michael J. Smith and Thurgood Marshall, United States Supreme Court Justice. The workshop has also cut the lettering for the United States Navy Memorial.[16]


  1. ^ a b United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places. Ashton Heights Historic District, Arlington County, VA (000-7819)
  2. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ Rita R. Rothwarf, "Neighborhood History Preservation Study for the Ashton Heights Area of Arlington County, VA" Arlington County Library, 1987
  4. ^ "Columbia Gardens Cemetery - Arlington, VA". Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  5. ^ "George Dewey Mauloseum Moved From Arlington National Cemetery". Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
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  15. ^ "Find A Grave - Columbia Gardens Cemetery". Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  16. ^ Columbia Garden Memorials