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4.3
11 votes

Old Gray Cemetery

543 N Broadway, Knoxville, Tennessee 37917 USA

Free
Free to Visit
Open Now
Mon 12a-11:59p
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • No Public
    Restrooms

Old Gray Cemetery is the second-oldest cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Established in 1850, the 13.47acre cemetery contains the graves of some of Knoxville's most influential citizens, ranging from politicians and soldiers, to artists and activists. The cemetery is also noted for the Victorian era marble sculpture and elaborate carvings adorning many of the grave markers and headstones. In 1996, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places.Named for English poet Thomas Gray (1716–1771), Old Gray Cemetery is an example of a so-called garden cemetery, a mid-19th century style that sought the transition of graveyards from urban churchyards to quiet suburban plots. Unlike its crowded predecessor, the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Old Gray features spacious graves, grand monuments, and extensive vegetation, and its layout bears more resemblance to a public park. Playwright Tennessee Williams mentions Old Gray in his short story, "The Man in the Overstuffed Chair," and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Peter Taylor alludes to the cemetery in his book, In the Tennessee Country. The cemetery was simply known as "Gray Cemetery" until 1892, when "New" Gray Cemetery was established about a mile away.HistoryBy the 1840s, the garden cemetery movement, driven largely by the fame of Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery, had gained popularity in France, England, and the United States, as planners in various large cities began building larger, more elaborate cemeteries in their respective cities' outskirts and suburbs. During this period, Knoxville's leaders sought such a cemetery for Knoxville, as many had incorrectly believed the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery (near the center of town) had caused a deadly epidemic in 1838. In February 1850, a board of trustees, led by East Tennessee University president William B. Reese, was appointed to buy land and sell lots for a new cemetery.

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Reviewed by
breonnabell

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
May 24, 2018
Rated 4.0

Took a stroll and loved the view. Plenty of shady spots and benches to rest on. Huge cemetery, but not sombering. Beautiful.

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Reviewed by
lauradelaine

  • 11 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
July 08, 2017
Rated 5.0

Truly lovely old cemetery. Lots of gravestones from the `8th and 19th centuries. They definitely don't bury people with this kind of sentiment any more.
Worth getting off the highway for if you like this kind of thing!

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Old Gray Cemetery

543 N Broadway
Knoxville, Tennessee
37917 USA

Hours

Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

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  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • No Public Restrooms
  • Street Parking
  • Private Parking
  • Yes Parking

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