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Shortlist: Atlanta's Most Awesome/Peculiar Cemeteries

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Are you needing a respite from the swelter of Atlanta's dog days? Do you like beautifully decayed carvings and gothic architecture? Are you a bit weird? Consider exploring public spaces under the shade of ancient oak trees — and above the corpses of city dwellers that came before you. While it's nowhere near Halloween or any other sensible time-peg for such a story, we've compiled a mapped shortlist of our favorite ATL graveyards, from the celebrated to the eerily overlooked. Boo!

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1. BEST KEPT SECRET: Westview Cemetery

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1680 Westview Drive Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30310

Oakland Cemetery gets all the glory as Atlanta's premier historic burial site, but Westview (which practically butts up to I-20 on its western leg) easily gives Oakland a run for its money. For starters, it's the largest cemetery in the Southeast. When Oakland began filling up toward the end of the 19th century, Westview was created to free up space; a who's who of Atlanta notables eventually found their way here, including Henry Grady, Joel Chandler Harris, Robert Woodruff, William Hartsfield, and the like. The huge, eclectic mausoleum is worth an extra look for its ornate carvings.

2. BEST PRESERVATION SUCCESS STORY: Harmony Grove Cemetery

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214 West Paces Ferry Road Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30305

Blink and you'll miss it, which is exactly what most Buckhead drivers did to the Harmony Grove Cemetery over the course of decades. It took a particularly observant local jogger to rediscover the postage stamp cemetery that's somewhat surreally located among the city's toniest addresses. Dating to at least 1870, it holds over 170 graves, most of them unmarked. Its extreme makeover garnered a 2009 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

3. BEST DISASTER COMEBACK: Oakland Cemetery

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248 Oakland Avenue Southeast
Atlanta, GA 30312

The Great Tornado of 2008 dealt Oakland Cemetery a powerful blow, literally. More than 100 trees and 300 markers sustained damage in the vaunted resting place; it's taken over a half decade to undo most of the damage, but for the most part the twister is history. Oakland still makes for one of the city's coolest strolls, a greenspace that's equal parts history, burial art and a million cool photo ops with the skyline as a backdrop.

4. MOST MYSTERIOUS: Gilbert Cemetery

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It's certainly not the most peaceful place to spend eternity, but the ironic thing about Gilbert Cemetery is that it might not even contain any graves at all. The markers were ceremonially placed there by the GDOT after it was discovered that the future roadway was going to pave over at least a portion of a circa 1861 slave graveyard. Most of the estimated 1,000 internments remain unmarked ...

5. CREEPIEST NEIGHBORS: Burns Mansion

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622 Grant Street Southeast
Atlanta, GA 30312

Take one of the city's best examples of Queen Anne Victorian architecture. Now bury the original owner and two random Civil War soldiers in the side yard. It all adds up to the delightfully eccentric Burns Mansion in Grant Park. What's an 1868 "haunted house" without an actual ghost, or three?

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1. BEST KEPT SECRET: Westview Cemetery

1680 Westview Drive Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30310

Oakland Cemetery gets all the glory as Atlanta's premier historic burial site, but Westview (which practically butts up to I-20 on its western leg) easily gives Oakland a run for its money. For starters, it's the largest cemetery in the Southeast. When Oakland began filling up toward the end of the 19th century, Westview was created to free up space; a who's who of Atlanta notables eventually found their way here, including Henry Grady, Joel Chandler Harris, Robert Woodruff, William Hartsfield, and the like. The huge, eclectic mausoleum is worth an extra look for its ornate carvings.

1680 Westview Drive Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30310

2. BEST PRESERVATION SUCCESS STORY: Harmony Grove Cemetery

214 West Paces Ferry Road Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30305

Blink and you'll miss it, which is exactly what most Buckhead drivers did to the Harmony Grove Cemetery over the course of decades. It took a particularly observant local jogger to rediscover the postage stamp cemetery that's somewhat surreally located among the city's toniest addresses. Dating to at least 1870, it holds over 170 graves, most of them unmarked. Its extreme makeover garnered a 2009 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

214 West Paces Ferry Road Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30305

3. BEST DISASTER COMEBACK: Oakland Cemetery

248 Oakland Avenue Southeast, Atlanta, GA 30312

The Great Tornado of 2008 dealt Oakland Cemetery a powerful blow, literally. More than 100 trees and 300 markers sustained damage in the vaunted resting place; it's taken over a half decade to undo most of the damage, but for the most part the twister is history. Oakland still makes for one of the city's coolest strolls, a greenspace that's equal parts history, burial art and a million cool photo ops with the skyline as a backdrop.

248 Oakland Avenue Southeast
Atlanta, GA 30312

4. MOST MYSTERIOUS: Gilbert Cemetery

Interstate 75 & Cleveland Road, Atlanta

It's certainly not the most peaceful place to spend eternity, but the ironic thing about Gilbert Cemetery is that it might not even contain any graves at all. The markers were ceremonially placed there by the GDOT after it was discovered that the future roadway was going to pave over at least a portion of a circa 1861 slave graveyard. Most of the estimated 1,000 internments remain unmarked ...

5. CREEPIEST NEIGHBORS: Burns Mansion

622 Grant Street Southeast, Atlanta, GA 30312

Take one of the city's best examples of Queen Anne Victorian architecture. Now bury the original owner and two random Civil War soldiers in the side yard. It all adds up to the delightfully eccentric Burns Mansion in Grant Park. What's an 1868 "haunted house" without an actual ghost, or three?

622 Grant Street Southeast
Atlanta, GA 30312