A Brief History of Orlando’s Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery | © City of Orlando
Greenwood Cemetery | © City of Orlando
Photo of Melissa Sherrard
25 January 2018

Established in 1880, Orlando’s Greenwood Cemetery is a site of both scenic beauty and historical importance. Before the founding of the cemetery, the Orlando community didn’t have a set burial plot or an established record-keeping system, which led to countless lost graves.

Tomb at Greenwood Cemetery | © City of Orlando

The original plot, simply called the Orlando Cemetery, consisted of 26 acres of land that W.R. Anno, C.A. Boone, James Delaney, James K. Duke, J.H. Livingston, Nat Poyntz, Samuel A. Robinson, and I.P. Wescott purchased from John W. Anderson for $1,800; they wanted to form a communal graveyard. In 1915, the name was changed to Greenwood Cemetery at the request of two of the original buyers of the burial site.

Greenwood Cemetery grounds | © City of Orlando

Over the years, Orlando’s Greenwood Cemetery has expanded to 86 acres of land, which includes the Greenwood Urban Wetlands, a 19-acre park on the cemetery’s western side established in 1991, as well as burial sections of which are dedicated to veterans of the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. There are also unmarked plots for African Americans who were lynched by whites and for the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. Some of the most famous residents of the Greenwood Cemetery include:

  • U.S. Senator Charles O. Andrews
  • U.S. Rep. William Thomas Bland
  • FL Rep. Edna Giles Fuller (the first woman to serve in the Florida State Legislature)
  • Francis W. Eppes
  • Mayor Cassius Aurelius Boone
  • Mayor Willis Lucullus Palmer
  • Mayor John Letcher Bryan
  • Mayor James LeRoy Giles
  • Mayor Capt. James B. Parramore
  • Mayor Bob Carr
  • Mayor Mahlon Gore
  • Mayor James Horace Smith
  • Mayor Braxton Beacham
  • Mayor Carl Langford
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame member Joe Tinker

Graves of veterans | © City of Orlando

Today, the City of Orlando owns and operates the historic Greenwood Cemetery, and the grounds are open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, for a unique way to explore the crypts and graveyards of Orlando’s Greenwood Cemetery, opt for a Moonlight Walking Tour and be led around the grounds by a knowledgeable sexton after sundown.

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