Oak Hill Cemetery (Washington, D.C.)

Oak Hill Cemetery is a historic 22-acre (8.9 ha) cemetery located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was founded in 1848 and completed in 1853, and is a prime example of a rural cemetery. Many famous politicians, business people, military people, diplomats, and philanthropists are buried at Oak Hill, and the cemetery has a number of Victorian-style memorials and monuments. Oak Hill has two structures which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel and the Van Ness Mausoleum.

The cemetery's interment of "Willie" Lincoln, deceased son of president Abraham Lincoln, was the inspiration for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.[1]

Oak Hill began in 1848 as part of the rural cemetery movement, directly inspired by the success of Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston, Massachusetts, when William Wilson Corcoran (also founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art) purchased 15 acres (6.1 ha) of land.[2] He then organized the Cemetery Company to oversee Oak Hill; it was incorporated by act of Congress on March 3, 1849.

Oak Hill's chapel was built in 1849 by noted architect James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Institution's Castle on Washington Mall and St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. His one-story rectangular chapel measures 23 by 41 feet (7×12 m) and sits on the cemetery's highest ridge. It is built of blue gneiss, in Gothic Revival style, with exterior trim in the same red Seneca sandstone used for the Castle.

By 1851, landscape designer Captain George F. de la Roche finished laying out the winding paths and terraces descending into Rock Creek valley. When initial construction was completed in 1853, Corcoran had spent over $55,000 on the cemetery's landscaping and architecture.