Magnolia Cemetery – Charleston, South Carolina
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Historic Magnolia Cemetery on the banks of the Cooper River in northern peninsular Charleston was established in 1850. It rests on 92 acres of a former rice plantation, Magnolia Umbra. The current superintendent’s office, pictured below, was the former plantation home and dates to 1805.
The photo below shows a “receiving tomb” at Magnolia Cemetery. A receiving tomb, as its name implies, defines a place where the dead were placed while a final burial site was prepared.
The receiving tomb at Magnolia Cemetery is listed as one of the Preservation Society of Charleston’s Seven to Save, a program the organization says “is an annual outreach program of the Preservation Society of Charleston designed to focus the work of the organization in a proactive and constructive way, delivering intellectual and financial resources to raise awareness and support for key preservation projects in Charleston and the region.”
The burial grounds were planned during a mid-nineteenth century rural cemetery trend in the United States. A yellow fever outbreak gripped Charleston in the 1850s, creating an even greater need for public cemeteries such as this one.
Magnolia Cemetery is a museum of sorts. It was laid out by noted architect Edward C. Jones, who also designed the United States Custom House on East Bay Street, among other popular buildings throughout Charleston and South Carolina.
The funerary art seen at Magnolia Cemetery is considered to be among the most beautiful examples in the country. Mausoleums, memorials, headstones, and statuary adorn the landscape with their stories of the deceased and reflections of spirituality.
The grounds also serve as the final resting place of many prominent South Carolinians, including several former governors. The picture below shows the resting place of the third and final crew of the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine. On the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley was the first submarine to successfully attack and sink an enemy ship, the USS Housatonic.
The crew’s remains were recovered, along with the Hunley itself, on August 8, 2000. The remains were laid to rest in Magnolia Cemetery on April 17, 2004. The crew was composed of Lieutenant George E. Dixon (Commander), Frank Collins, Joseph F. Ridgaway, James A. Wicks, Arnold Becker, Corporal C. F. Carlsen, C. Lumpkin, and Augustus Miller.
Learn more about famous people buried in Magnolia Cemetery.
Magnolia Cemetery is listed in the National Register, which says the following:
Magnolia Cemetery, a large public cemetery, covers approximately 92 acres and contains the graves of numerous prominent South Carolinians. Established in 1850, Magnolia is extensively landscaped with winding drives and paths interspersed with small ponds and a lake, and contains excellent examples of late 19th century cemetery architecture and sculpture. The original design included a chapel, formal garden, keeper’s house, and receiving room. Of the original cemetery structures, the Receiving Tomb remains, plus a ca. 1805 structure (now the superintendent’s office), three 1890s structures, five mausoleums, and many impressive examples of cemetery art and architecture. Also remaining are excellent examples of iron work, of the late 19th century and remnants of the original landscape patterns. Magnolia enjoyed prominence during the mid and late 19th century, a time when it was also a popular spot for picnicking during the Victorian era. The cemetery is an excellent reflection of the arts, tastes, and social mores of the 19th century.
Reflections on Magnolia Cemetery
Contributor Keith Rice shares, “Magnolia Cemetery is the most fascinating place with all of the live oaks and ornate old graves.”
Magnolia Cemetery Info
Address: 70 Cunnington Avenue, Charleston, SC 29405
Magnolia Cemetery Map
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