NPS Logo

Historical Background

Biographical Sketches

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Suggested Reading

THE PRESIDENTS of the United States
Survey of
Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark Monroe Tomb
Monroe Tomb
Monroe Tomb

Hollywood Cemetery, 412 South Cherry Street, Richmond.

This tomb, a small-scale architectural masterpiece, contains the remains of President James Monroe. Upon his death in New York City on July 4, 1831, his body was interred in that city's Marble (Second Street) Cemetery. In 1858, the 100th anniversary of his birth, municipal officials and representatives of the State of Virginia decided that the remains should be returned to his home State for reburial. The Virginia legislature appropriated funds for this purpose. On July 5 the body, accompanied by the 7th Regiment of the New York National Guard, arrived in Richmond on the steamboat Jamestown. That same day, an impressive burial ceremony, highlighted by a speech delivered by Gov. Henry A. Wise of Virginia, was held at the gravesite, on a high bluff overlooking the James River, in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery.

Monroe Tomb
Monroe Tomb (National Park Service, Edward F. Heite, 1969.)

The tomb is an ornate Gothic Revival structure. Designed by Alsatian architect Albert Lybrock, it was erected in 1859. The innovative and imaginative use of cast iron, obtained from the Philadelphia firm of Wood and Perot, provided the opportunity for a delicacy and intricacy of design that was not possible on the same scale in stone.

body of Monroe
The exhumed body of President Monroe, who had died in 1831, lies in state in New York City's City Hall in 1858, before being returned to his home state, Virginia, for reburial. (Engraving, in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, July 17, 1858, Library of Congress.)

The tomb is in the form of a rectangular "cage" surrounding Monroe's simple granite sarcophagus. Each facade is decorated with a lancet arch in the style of a cathedral window. At the top of each of these arches is a rose window tracery; below each tracery are three round arches. On the two longer sides of the rectangle, two subordinate lancet arches flank the main ones. At each of the four corners, a colonette supports a small tabernacle that rises above the top of the facades. The "cage" sits on a solid but elaborately decorated base and is surmounted by an ogive canopy featuring delicate tracery. A low stone wall encircles the tomb.

Hollywood Cemetery, on a rolling ridge overlooking the James River, also contains the graves of President John Tyler, near that of Monroe; Jefferson Davis; Gen. J. E. B. Stuart; and thousands of other Confederate soldiers.

Previous Next
Last Updated: 22-Jan-2004