Visitors to Athens often include a drive or stroll through the cemetery as part of their tour of Athens. Such a visit never fails to create a memory of one of the most memorable and beautiful spots one will see.
Oconee Hill Cemetery is an excellent example of the 19th century's fashionable natural landscape cemetery movement that began in Europe. The hallmarks of this movement are woods, grassy and rolling terrain, flowing water, meandering tree drives and scenic vistas. Hinting of the potential of an arboretum or botanical garden rather than a cemetery, America's first example of this movement was Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The original design for the cemetery was created by James Camak, a prominent member of the University of Georgia's faculty in the early 19th century, whose plan was based on visits to other examples of the Victorian rural cemetery movement. The university's original botanical garden was being closed around the time the cemetery was planned. Recent surveys by students and faculty from the university's College of Environment and Design identified early plantings in the historic cemetery.
This beautiful natural setting is enhanced by ornamental ironwork on gates and fences, beautifully constructed retaining walls and Victorian monuments and statuary that add to the charm and beauty of this setting.