Photo slideshow by Cameron Ansari. Click other images for source. 

Our recent Facebook re-post of a Curbed.com article about the oldest house in New York City noted that the little wood house in Queens has its own cemetery on the property dating back to the 1700s. That inspired a lively debate about living with graves in the backyard, which in turn led to a revisit to one of the most beautiful places in Houston, Glenwood Cemetery.

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Paris may have its Père Lachaine Cemetery – final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Honoré de Balzac, Molière, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, Georges Bizet, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Marceau and Frédéric Chopin – but our city’s beloved historic Glenwood Cemetery, founded in 1871, also has a roster of local celebrities.

Many families whose names grace Houston-area buildings, businesses and streets have members buried in Glenwood Cemetery, and there are dozens of oilmen, cotton traders and early entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Among them are Bill Hobby and Oveta Culp Hobby, Thomas Bagby, Isaac Conroe, George R. Brown, Robert Lee Blaffer, George Hermann, August Charles Bering III (did you know the family’s shops began as a lumberyard?), attorneys James A. Baker and Walter Botts, actress Gene Tierney, William Stamps Farish II, Joseph Cullinan, wildcatter Glenn McCarthy, Howard R. Hughes Jr. (as well as his father Howard R. Hughes Sr., see Hughes family plot in photo below), Roy Hofheinz and Margaret Kinkaid. You’ll also find members of the Rice, Jones, Staub, Weiss, Wortham, Voss, Boliver and Allen families. As one writer put it, Glenwood Cemetery is “the River Oaks of the dead.”

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In a city notorious for scraping away the old to make room for the new, Glenwood Cemetery may be one of the few places where our community’s history is reverently gathered and gently celebrated. You can read the stories of some of the people buried at Glenwood here.

Aside from its rich history, Glenwood’s monuments – perhaps the most famous is the so-called Angel of Grief (photo below) – are themselves a gallery of the region’s most remarkable 19th– and 20th-century sculptors and stone cutters.

800px-GlenwoodAngelofGriefIf you have never been through the cemetery, do go and lose yourself among the winding paths and huge live oaks. Glenwood is open every day, and you are welcome to walk your dog there so long as you clean up after. Stick to the road and paths and be respectful (i.e. don’t walk on the graves). Glenwood Cemetery is lush and beautiful, and the views of downtown over and through the foliage are excellent. There are also docent-led tours available.

The main gate is at 2525 Washington Avenue and the cemetery fills the acreage between Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive. To learn more, visit http://www.glenwoodcemetery.org/.