Common sense tells you to head to the grocery store if you want to buy groceries. And if you’re going to go fishing, you head to a lake or the ocean. But where do you go if you want to find ghosts and paranormal activity?
To a cemetery, of course! And none of them are more beautiful and packed with paranormal activity than Richmond Virginia’s Hollywood Cemetery. It’s not only one of the five most haunted places in Virginia; it’s also one of the most beautiful places in the state.
Hollywood Cemetery: A Brief History
Hollywood Cemetery is located high above the banks of the James River in the state capital of Richmond. Its 135 acres of natural beauty is the resting place of over 18,000 Confederate soldiers; many of them exhumed from their original burial places at Gettysburg and reburied here on their beloved southern soil. Unfortunately, 11,000 of these soldiers remain unidentified.
In addition to these Confederate soldiers, Hollywood is the resting place of James Monroe and John Tyler, two presidents of the United States, and Jefferson Davis, the first president of the Confederate States of America. Two Supreme Court Justices, 22 Confederate generals, and six Virginia governors are buried here as well.
The first burial in Hollywood was in 1849 was named Frederick William Emrich, who was only 18 months old.
Built-in 1847 as part of a worldwide trend to move from small church-affiliated cemeteries to large landscaped burial grounds, Hollywood Cemetery is one of the first garden cemeteries in the United States and one of the most beautiful historic cemeteries in the country. It is also the 2nd most visited cemetery in the United States.
Hollywood Cemetery was named for the abundance of holly trees growing throughout the grounds and was designed as a haven of peace and relaxation for both the living and the dead.
Here, visitors could escape city life and stroll among the cemetery’s rolling hills and valleys, visit their loved ones, and spend their remaining time wandering the grounds admiring the 2,000 stately trees, decorative plantings, and flowers that dot the landscape. It remains the same haven for visitors today and is so extraordinarily beautiful that in 2017, it earned recognition as a registered arboretum.
It’s also a place of compelling paranormal evidence experienced by the locals, groundkeepers, tourists, and the paranormal community. There’s even a vampire lurking there, some say. The cemetery has so many pockets of paranormal activity within its gates that each one could become a separate destination for investigation.
The Pyramid – Monument to the Confederate War Dead
One of the first places you should visit in Hollywood Cemetery is this 90-foot pyramid made out of marble designed by Charles H. Dimmick, a captain in the Confederate army and erected in 1869. Because of this, it’s sometimes called the Dimmick Pyramid and was created to commemorate the 18,000 soldiers buried in Hollywood cemetery.
This Egyptian-like pyramid took a year to construct. It was fraught with accidents and injuries, including the repeated breaking of the derrick that hauled the stones and prevented the pyramid from being completed earlier. This is one of the most active paranormal hot spots in the cemetery, and just this monument alone would make this cemetery one of the 5 most haunted locations in Virginia. But there are others as well.
According to paranormal investigators and local lore, the early morning and dusk are the most active times to experience paranormal activity.
First, the most-reported phenomena at the pyramid are blasts of cold air and cold spots that come and go while walking around the structure and which are not the result of the weather. Even the Richmond Sheriff experienced these blasts of cold air during his visit here.
Second are disembodied moans that visitors say are cries from the unidentified 11,000 soldiers buried here and who want to make their presence known. EVP evidence abounds. When asking the dead soldiers, “Will you talk to us?” by an investigator, the question was quickly answered by a distinct and firm male voice exclaiming, “No!” Then, as if to appease the ghost’s hostile attitude, a disembodied female voice is heard saying, “It’s OK.” The pyramid is the most active location within the cemetery and the greatest reason why it is one of Virginia’s five most haunted places.
Little Girl Rees and Her Guardian Dog
One of the most interesting monuments of the 312 pieces of outstanding sculpture in Hollywood Cemetery is a three-foot-high cast-iron Newfoundland dog. Standing amidst the gravestones, it appears it is guarding a nearby grave.
And according to legend, he is. The grave the dog protects is the final resting place of a two-year-old girl who supposedly succumbed to scarlet fever back in 1864. Although no one knows her first name, she is known to be one of the daughters of the local Rees family.
There are five different stories regarding the dog’s origin, and all of them are charming and quite romantic. But none can be backed up with evidence. Nevertheless, the dog and the little girl have been the source of decades of paranormal happenings regardless of the statue’s origins. Here’s just a few:
Numerous grounds crew and visitors claim to hear a dog barking when they come close to the site. However, those who approach the grave with ill intent will hear a low growl from the cast-iron beast. In addition, many have seen a little girl playing with a dog late at night by the gravesite. Some say the dog even moves, but no one has been able to verify that phenomenon through pictures or video.
The Monument to the Confederate War Dead and the Dog are only two paranormal hot spots in this cemetery out of innumerable examples of EVPs and ghostly apparitions caught on video throughout the grounds. So, don’t forget your voice recorder and video camera when you visit.
Touring Hollywood Cemetery
Take a tour of Hollywood the next time you find yourself in the Richmond area, and you’ll discover why this cemetery is one of the five most haunted places in Virginia.
There are several tour options:
- Historical Walking Tours
- Segway Tours
- Trolley Tours
- Gem Car Tours – electric car
- Tuk Tuk Tours – 3 wheeled 100% electric cars
- Self-guided tours
Public Visiting Hours
- 8am – 5pm Daily
- 8am – 6pm (during Daylight Saving Time)
- Monday – Friday
- 8:30am – 4:30pm