While some may find cemeteries a bit spooky, they are often beautiful, peaceful places full of art and history. In fact, for years cemeteries have doubled as parks for the community to enjoy. Elmwood Cemetery, located on Detroit’s east side, is no exception.
Founded in 1846 by 6 Protestant men, it was the first fully integrated cemetery. The founders wanted a place that welcomed everyone regardless of race, culture, or religion. As a result, many prominent Michiganders are buried there. As you walk the ground you’ll recognize many of the names because these are the people our local buildings, roads, and institutions are named after. Even if you’re not as familiar with the names, their stories are still worth hearing.
Elmwood cemetery is also designated as an arboretum and has more than 100 different species of trees. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, they were encouraged to plant trees and let them grow, and as a result, there are many trees well over 100 years old. Some even have placards with QR codes so you can learn more about a specific tree. It’s also one of the only places in the city where you can see Detroit’s natural topography of rolling hills and waterways. Bloody Run creek winds its way through the cemetery and marks the location of the brutal battle between Chief Pontiac and the British in 1763.
Watch the video above for a glimpse of some of the amazing people buried at Elmwood including George DeBaptiste, and Senator Jacob M. Howard, who helped write the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
To hear even more stories, you should go on a tour. They have regular monthly guided tours, special tours on occasion, and have a variety of self-guided tours you can go on. Maps and more information can be found at their gatehouse, or online. Elmwood Cemetery is located at 1200 Elmwood St. in Detroit.