Richmonders William Haxall and Joshua Fry, inspired by a recent visit to Mount Auburn cemetery near Boston, decided to open a similar cemetery on the outskirts of Richmond. Together with 40 prominent Richmond subscribers, they started a company that would later be known as the Hollywood Cemetery Company. Notable architect John Notman of Philadelphia was enlisted to design the cemetery. He suggested the name “Hollywood” due to the large amount of holly trees that dotted its hills.
An enclosure fence was built around the property, as well as an extensive system of gutters, drainage ditches, culverts and bridges. The company also constructed several lakes on the property, although these have since been filled in. Several roadways and paths were put in place, all of which are still visible in the original 40 acres of the cemetery.
Hollywood Cemetery sold its first grave site.
The first monument, as distinguished from a headstone, was placed in Hollywood Cemetery.
The General Assembly passed an act incorporating the Hollywood Cemetery Company.
The Commonwealth of Virginia reinterred the remains of President James Monroe to Hollywood Cemetery and erected the monumental James Monroe Tomb.
Hollywood became one of the largest cemeteries in Richmond for military interments during the Civil War. One particular area of the cemetery became known as the Confederate Section due to the immense amount of Confederate soldiers that were buried there.
Hollywood raised the price of adult burials from $4 to $20 and the price of child burials from $2 to $10.
All of Hollywood’s records, kept at the treasurer’s office in Richmond, were burned as fleeing Confederates set fire to the city.
The Hollywood Ladies Memorial Association was founded to care for the graves of Confederate soldiers. The association reinterred an estimated 3,000 bodies from the Gettysburg battlefield to Hollywood Cemetery.
Confederate dead from the battle of Gettysburg were reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery in six shipments, arriving by steamship. The bodies were buried on a small rise in the Soldiers’ Section, now known as Gettysburg Hill.
A Junior Hollywood Memorial Association was established, open to both boys and girls.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis was reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery.
The Ladies’ Hollywood Memorial Association unveiled a monument in the Soldiers’ Section for the 224 Confederate soldiers who are buried in Pittsville Cemetery, in Philadelphia.
A new section on Midvale Avenue containing 148 lots was laid out on a lawn system.
President William Howard Taft paid a visit to Hollywood Cemetery and was initially refused entrance because of his car (automobiles were not allowed in the cemetery). He was eventually allowed to enter.
The cemetery company was surprised to learn that Hollywood had never been officially authorized by the city to serve as a burying ground. That bureaucratic oversight was quickly remedied.
After much argument and debate, the board of directors finally voted to permit automobiles in the cemetery.
Hollywood began offering tours through the cemetery in a Ford car that could carry 4-5 people at a time. Each tour cost $0.35.
Hollywood acquired additional land, known as Clark Springs, to develop for burial lots.
The lake near Midvale Avenue was drained and converted to land to use as burial lots.
A granite and iron entrance gate, built by C.W. Toombs & Co. was placed at the Cherry and Albemarle Streets entrance.
The cemetery purchased its first power mowing equipment.
The Richmond Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy prepared a list of distinguished people buried at the cemetery. The names were presented on a bronze plaque that was affixed to the side of the cemetery offices.
Hollywood discontinued Sunday funerals.
President Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the custom of honoring President James Monroe with a special ceremony at his tomb on his birthday. The practice was extended later to President John Tyler, and it continues today.
Hollywood Cemetery was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
The chapel at Hollywood’s entrance was converted to office space.
Emily Higgins was unanimously elected to the board as the first woman to ever serve as a Hollywood director.
Glade Garden, the area at the foot of the hill leading to the cemetery from the entrance, was completed.
Hollywood was presented with three preservation awards from the Historic Richmond Foundation for its long-term commitment to maintaining the cemetery.
A scene from the movie The Jackal, starring Richard Gere and Sidney Poitier, was filmed in Hollywood Cemetery. Several other scenes for movies and TV shows would be filmed in the cemetery throughout the years.
Hollywood opened the Idlewood Section of the cemetery.
Hurricane Isabel caused so much damage that every road in the cemetery was blocked by uprooted trees or fallen monuments and tombstones. It cost more than a million dollars to clean up the damage.
Tropical Storm Gaston caused the stone retaining wall along Cherry Street to fall into the cemetery
A cremation wall, the first at Hollywood, was completed in the Idlewood Section.
A monument to the Jewish soldiers who served in the Confederacy was dedicated in the Soldiers’ Section.
Presidents Circle was renovated to include 900 niches in a new granite walk leading up to and surrounding the Circle and provides the potential for 1,800 more interments that were not available previously. Several monuments, fences, and curbing in the area were restored as well.
The cast-iron canopy over James Monroe's tomb, known as The Birdcage, was repaired and restored to its original lighter color.
The first overlook of the James River was constructed near the Palmer Chapel thanks to generous funding from the James River Garden Club and Dominion Foundation.