Historic Place: Oak Hill Cemetery listed on Register

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Holding the certificate recognizing Oak Hill Cemetery’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places are, from left, Hasco Craver, business development director for the City of Newnan, along with Elizabeth Beers who did much of the research for the nomination and Newnan Mayor Keith Brady.

From STAFF REPORTS news@newnan.com Newnan's Oak Hill Cemetery is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's list of historically significant properties. Main Street Newnan and the City of Newnan sponsored the nomination and prepared the nomination materials. Newnan resident Elizabeth Beers took the lead in pushing for inclusion of the cemetery on the National Register. The listing became official on Jan. 27.
The historic burial ground is located along Jefferson Street approximately one-half mile north of downtown Newnan. Oak Hill Cemetery was listed on the National Register at the local level of significance as a good example of a 19th-century cemetery that has remained in continuous use since opening in 1828, the year that the town of Newnan was established. Oak Hill was not originally a city cemetery, but privately owned burial grounds that were divided into several sections. Southeast of Jefferson Street is the Presbyterian section. The Presbyterian church, which had been established in the nearby settlement of Bullsboro, moved to a new building in Newnan at the southeast corner of Jackson and Clark streets. The church located their burial grounds adjacent to their new church building. This burial location is still recognized as the Presbyterian cemetery and all plots are sold to church members. The city, however, maintains it as part of Oak Hill Cemetery. Northwest of Jefferson Street the cemetery contains the Methodist section, the Dr. Davis section, the Helen Long section and the burial ground of the Newnan Baptist Church. Prior to 1833, individuals purchased their grave plots from the proprietors of several private cemeteries. In 1833 the city purchased all of those burial grounds northwest of Jefferson Street, and established a public cemetery. The cemetery received its name following an 1897 newspaper contest. In 1940 the city added the stone entry columns and began implementing a landscaping plan. Numerous oak and cedar trees were planted at that time. Additional adjacent property was acquired in 1950, 1977 and 2000. Known burials date from 1840 through the present day. The cemetery contains more than 6,000 burials in all of the historic sections. Some of the early plots have no markers, and there are no records of the owners. Numerous examples of 19th- and 20th-century funerary monuments and ornamental fencing can be found throughout the cemetery. Decorative grave markers, obelisks, statuary and ornamental fencing are all representative of the burial practices and funerary symbolism of the 19th and 20th centuries. Two Georgia governors, William Yates Atkinson (1854-1899) and Ellis Gibbs Arnall (1907-1992), as well as numerous political figures, are buried in the cemetery. There is also a Confederate section consisting of 270 graves. Many of those buried there died in hospitals in Newnan during that conflict. Every state in the Confederacy is represented, and Confederate hero William Thomas Overby was reinterred there in 1997. The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts worthy of preservation. The National Register provides formal recognition of a property's architectural, historical or archaeological significance. The list also identifies historic properties for planning purposes and insures those properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. Listing on the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer or disposition of private property. The Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia's state historic preservation office. Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places in Georgia.


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