Westview Cemetery Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Atlanta, GA

Westview Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 4, 2020. The cemetery is located at 1680 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard in Atlanta (Fulton County). The nomination was sponsored by Westview Cemetery, Inc. and the Atlanta Preservation Center. The nomination materials were prepared by historian and author, Jeffrey Clemmons.

Located approximately four miles west of downtown Atlanta, Westview Cemetery, established in 1884, is a sprawling, 504-acre private cemetery comprising expansive, rolling terrain. Westview was initially designed as a lawn-park style cemetery, a style characterized by curvilinear roads, ornamental plantings, and family plots marked with a single monument surrounded by footstones. Then, in 1941, under Coca-Cola scion Asa Candler Jr.’s ownership, the cemetery transitioned to a memorial-park style cemetery, which is characterized by burial sections known as “gardens” with a central religious sculpture or piece of art surrounded by flat markers. Today, nearly 19 miles of curvilinear roads traverse the property, which contains hundreds of acres of family plots, as well as single grave sections and organizational sections, such as those for the Salvation Army and Masons. Only about half of the property has been developed, with significant acreage available for future burials. Within the cemetery there are numerous family mausoleums, both intricate and plain, and elaborate sculptures. Several other types of markers are present, such as obelisks, rock-face boulders, angels, and other standardized types, including Woodmen of the World monuments. Additionally, Westview has two sections no longer open to the public – Rest Haven, the cemetery’s once black-only section, and God’s Acre, the pauper burial section, which contains more than 5,000 graves. These two sections are located near the cemetery’s southeastern boundary. Near the northeastern boundary of the property is an 1890 Romanesque-Revival style gatehouse, constructed of random range fieldstone masonry quarried from the site. The massive, 1943 Spanish Plateresque-style Westview Abbey, which contains 11,444 crypts, is in the northwestern portion of the property and is composed of an administration building and a mausoleum. The latter building contains the Spanish-Gothic-style Florence Candler Chapel, complete with fan-vault ceiling, numerous stained-glass windows, walnut reredos, and paintings by Hungarian-born painter Bartholomew Mako.

Westview Cemetery is significant for its collection of distinct architectural styles and art; as a burial ground serving several ethnic groups in the city of Atlanta; and also for its association with Asa Candler Jr. and the evolution of cemetery marketing and sales trends over 150 years. In the areas of art and architecture, the numerous forms of decorative burial monuments reflect funerary traditions from the mid-19th century to 1976. Architectural styles include Neo-Classical Revival, Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Art Deco, and eclectic mixes of styles appearing in many of the mausoleums, obelisks, headstones, and other markers. The 1890 gatehouse is an excellent example of a Romanesque-Revival style office/public building, while the 1943 Westview Abbey is a rare and excellent example of the Spanish Plateresque style. The cemetery is significant in the area of black ethnic heritage because it includes a segregated section for black burials and in the area of European ethnic heritage because of the annual burial practices of Irish Travellers on the property for more than half a century. Westview Cemetery is significant in the area of commerce because of Atlanta businessman Asa Candler Jr.’s dramatic impact on the property. He made the cemetery a profitable business venture, greatly expanded its built environment, and introduced a new burial style to the South, the memorial park.

The National Register of Historic Places is our country'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. It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes and ensures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. 

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For more information contact National Register and Survey Program Manager Stephanie Cherry-Farmer at 770-389-7843 and stephanie.cherry-farmer@dnr.ga.gov.

For press inquiries contact Historic Preservation Division Outreach Program Manager Allison Asbrock at 770-389-7868 and allison.asbrock@dnr.ga.gov


 

The above is a news release from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia.  SHPO's programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance. 

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.