History of Riverside Cemetery

Established in 1887, Riverside Cemetery is located just off Riverside Drive above the Ocmulgee River on a beautiful, 125-acre parcel of land. It is the final resting place of over 19,000 people including Civil War veterans, esteemed civic and business leaders, renowned educators, religious leaders of several faiths, members of the Military, and prominent Macon families.

The beautifully landscaped cemetery continues to be developed, with new areas being added for family and individual interment. Though Riverside Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a modern and active cemetery, with many plots and spaces available in the Camellia Mausoleumcremation gardentraditional burial sectionscolumbarium, and estate lots.

Design & Concept

The original charter of Riverside Cemetery was granted by the Superior Court of Bibb County on April 6, 1887. The first act of this board was to commission the renowned architect-landscape design firm headed by Calvert Vaux of New York to create the original design for Riverside Cemetery. A native of London, Vaux came to the United States in 1850 to be associated with Andrew Jackson Downing and later with Frederick Law Olmstead. Calvert Vaux is remembered for his work with Central Park, Riverside Park, and the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Later areas of Riverside Cemetery were designed by landscape architect and cemetery designer, Ray Wyrick, whose work is found throughout the United States.

History & Significance of the Gatehouse

The gatehouse, which served for many years as the main office for the Cemetery’s operations, was built in 1897 under the direction of Architect-Engineer Peter E. Dennis and remains a rare and unique example of Old English half-timbered construction. It is currently used for cemetery meetings and special events, and serves as the trail head of the Riverside Cemetery portion of Macon’s Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.

Civil War Redoubt

In the spring of 1864, Union forces approached Macon from the north and west. On a bluff above the Ocmulgee River, the Macon Volunteers and impressed slave labor, under the command of General Howell Cobb, built a parapet to serve as a point of lookout and defense. Twenty years later, several prominent citizens of Macon – some former Confederate officers – founded Riverside Cemetery in 1887. The Civil War era redoubt remains intact, today overlooking the Violet section where family estate lots are carefully tucked between perfectly landscaped terraces. It is a historic landmark on Georgia’s Civil War Trail. Many other earthworks were built to defend Macon, but only two in addition to Riverside’s remain; one at the Dunlap Farm, now the site of Ocmulgee National Monument, and one at the current Baconsfield area, both on the river’s east side.

National Register of Historic Places

Riverside Cemetery has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U. S. Department of the Interior for more than 30 years due to the “architectural and historical significance of the property.”

Notable residents

Every person leaves a legacy. As such, Riverside Cemetery could be considered an underground museum – the repository of more than 18,000 individual histories, each with its own stories to tell. The Riverside Cemetery Conservancy shares some of the most notable of these through its annual Spirits in October Tour and Spring Spirit Stroll, as well as a self-guided tour map of the cemetery.

A few of the most recognizable Riverside residents include:

Board of Directors

Riverside Cemetery is a non-profit organization governed by the Board of Directors for the benefit of all lot owners. The Board of Directors presides over the cemetery and the president. Throughout its history, Riverside has been influentially managed by many of Macon’s important founding fathers and business leaders.