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Crumbling in places, iconic Oakland Cemetery sees campaign launched to help

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Historic Oakland Foundation aims to raise $10,000 to fix broken tombstones and mausoleums

a picture of a broken obelisk
An example of deferred maintenance at Oakland Cemetery.
Historic Oakland Foundation

If you’ve strolled through Oakland Cemetery lately, you might have noticed crumbling headstones and cracked mausoleums.

In fact, the tombstone jutting up from the grave of the Oakland neighborhood’s first known resident, James Nissen, is nearly unrecognizable, after decades upon decades of being battered by the elements.

Founded in 1850, the graveyard used to span a modest six acres. Now, 168 years later, the iconic Atlanta greenspace is sprawled out over nearly 50 acres and is the final resting place for an abundance of respected Atlantans, such as former Mayors Ivan Allen, Jr. and Maynard Jackson, golfer Bobby Jones, and author Margaret Mitchell.

As with anything of that stature, age, and historic importance, the upkeep is significant, too.

But members of the Historic Oakland Foundation, hamstrung by limited resources, are finding it impossible take care of every deteriorating element in the old cemetery.

Historic Oakland Foundation

In response, the foundation recently kicked off a 10-week fundraiser, vying for $10,000 to help make needed repairs.

“Restoration can be expensive, and we need your help,” says a plea from the HOF’s PRO team, which “keeps monuments, mausoleums, and headstones from being irreparably damaged or causing harm to visitors or other structures within the cemetery.”

With its current tools, the team can tackle between 15 and 25 “critical restoration projects” each year. Those fixes can entail anything from repairing busted headstones to securing “dangerously leaning obelisks that weigh several thousand pounds,” according to the group’s website.

More money, the team says, of course means better maintenance, and a donation of $25 can actually help mend a broken tombstone.

Funds raised during the campaign “will be used to restore monuments, headstones, and mausoleums identified by restoration staff to have immediate needs that threaten their integrity ... or the safety of visitors,” says the team’s call for help.

Click here to read more about fundraising goals, the organization, and the cemetery.

Oakland Cemetery

248 Oakland Avenue Southeast, , GA 30312 Visit Website