Springwood Cemetery

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Springwood Cemetery
Springwood Cemetery (Greenville, South Carolina).JPG
Springwood Cemetery Main Gate (1914)
Springwood Cemetery is located in South Carolina
Springwood Cemetery
Springwood Cemetery is located in the US
Springwood Cemetery
Location 400 North Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina
Coordinates 34°51′18″N 82°23′46″W / 34.85500°N 82.39611°W / 34.85500; -82.39611Coordinates: 34°51′18″N 82°23′46″W / 34.85500°N 82.39611°W / 34.85500; -82.39611
Area 30 acres (12 ha)
Architect G. L. Norrman
NRHP Reference # 05001156[1]
Added to NRHP October 4, 2005

Springwood Cemetery is a historic cemetery in Greenville, South Carolina, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest municipal cemetery in the state and has approximately 7,700 marked, and 2,600 unmarked, graves.[2]

The first burial in what today is Springwood Cemetery occurred in July 1812, after Elizabeth Blackburn Williams (1752-1812), the mother-in-law of prominent early Greenvillian Chancellor Waddy Thompson, expressed a desire to be buried in the family garden. Many other burials occurred in the area after Thompson sold 60 acres of his property to one Francis H. McLeod in 1817. In 1829 McLeod opened the private graveyard to the public, and in 1833, he conveyed a tract of land to the city for use as a cemetery. The city acquired additional acres during the 1870s, and the last five acres of the cemetery were purchased before 1944.[3] Presumably the cemetery was named for a spring that was once included in, or was just beyond, its boundaries.[4]

The 200-year-old cemetery includes "a comprehensive collection of gravemarker types," including field stones, raised masonry tombs topped with stone ledgers, Victorian monoliths, and Veterans Administration markers. Eighty unknown Confederate soldiers are buried near the entrance, presumably soldiers who died of wounds or disease after being removed to one of the two Greenville buildings used for hospitals during the Civil War.[5]

Springwood retains its rural cemetery design elements and the 1876 landscape planning of prominent New South architect G. L. Norrman. The entrance gate, built of Indiana limestone, was completed in 1914.[6] Just outside the Main Street entrance, in its own pocket park, is a Confederate monument that from 1891 to 1923 stood in the middle of Main Street.[7]

The northeast corner of the cemetery, which was used as a potter's field for African Americans and indigent whites has perhaps only a dozen remaining headstones, although the area is believed to contain hundreds of graves. In 1969 the City of Greenville extended Academy Street through this section and removed the remains of approximately 250 to 275 people.[8]

Although burials continue, no new plots have been sold since the 1970s. The city of Greenville contributes to the maintenance of the cemetery, but there is no perpetual care fund, and the graves themselves remain private property. A "Friends of Springwood Cemetery" was formed in 2002 to raise awareness of cemetery needs.[9]

Notable Interments[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ The cemetery has also been known as Elford Cemetery, the Old Graveyard, and the Old Village Burial Ground. The cemetery's interment locator lists more than 300 "unknown" markers, many of them Confederate soldiers but also some stones so weathered as to be unreadable. Poignantly, one stone reads "Two little children names unknown found in old vault 1912." By the 21st century not only were the children's names unknown but also the identity of the vault or who might have removed them from it. Amy Clarke Burns,"Q&Amy: Children's Grave is a cemetery mystery," Greenville News, July 3, 2015, 3A.
  3. ^ Ward, 29-30. There is no evidence that Francis McLeod was buried in the cemetery. It is also unclear why at a time when most families had cemetery plots of their own and the nearly adjoining churchyard of Christ Episcopal Church was "remarkably ecumenical" in its burial practices that "a village of 750 people needed two cemeteries within a tenth of a mile of each other." Judith Bainbridge, "Churchyard abounds in curious mysteries," Greenville News, City People, September 24, 2014, 2-3.
  4. ^ NRHP Registration Form, 6. Today the spring, nicknamed the "Thank God for Water Spring," is outside the cemetery.
  5. ^ Ward, 35; Archie Vernon Huff, Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995), 139. Some monuments have unusual stories, as for instance the angel that marks the grave of Fannie Heldman, who committed suicide on January 1, 1889. Judy Bainbridge, "Harness maker George Heldman," Greenville News, April 14, 2016, 4D.
  6. ^ NRHP Registration Form, 11-12.
  7. ^ Ward, 7-10. Though the monument seriously impeded traffic, veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy objected to moving it. "Acting quickly one September morning in 1922, council ordered the statue moved. They learned at noon that opponents were seeking a restraining order. Before it could be served, they whisked the statue from its pedestal and hid it in a barn on Paris Mountain." Not until after a ruling by the state Supreme Court in July 1924, and prolonged negotiations with the DAR and veterans, was the statue relocated. Judy Bainbridge, "Controversial Move in 1922," Greenville News, June 19, 2017, 2A.
  8. ^ Ward, 80. The remains were moved to Pinedale Memorial Park in Piedmont, South Carolina.
  9. ^ "Downtown's Springwood, Richland cemeteries face challenges with little money,"Greenville News, May 26, 2013.

Further reading/external links[edit]