Southern Memorial Association Celebrates 150 Years

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“Color Guard” by Lynchburg artist Anne Adams Robertson Massie depicts a Memorial Day Ceremony in Old City Cemetery around 1995.

The local non-profit organization that manages Old City Cemetery celebrates its 150th birthday on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.  Exactly 150 years ago, on Thursday evening, April 26, 1866, the Southern Memorial Association was formed in the lecture room of the Methodist Protestant Church on Church Street. Since then, SMA has quietly and steadily endured through the decades. It has grown and evolved, but never given up its mission of caring for Old City Cemetery and engaging new generations there.

What is SMA?

The City of Lynchburg owns Old City Cemetery, but it has a contract with the Southern Memorial Association to manage the historic property on behalf of the City. SMA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a self-appointed Board of Directors. Despite its name, it only exists in Lynchburg, and it only manages one property (OCC).

For 150 years the City and SMA have been working together to preserve, beautify, and improve Lynchburg’s first and only municipal burial ground. To learn more about the history of SMA at OCC, click here.

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Longtime SMA officers Anne Norvell Otey Scott (1872–1948) and Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne Lewis (seated) (1851–1946) in the Speakers Belvedere in the Confederate Section

Our Anniversary Year

Throughout 2016 we will celebrate the fascinating history of SMA, including the remarkable people and projects that have defined the organization for a century and a half. Look for these SMA “traditions” throughout the year:

  • Documenting Our Site and Its Residents
  • Creating New Reasons to Visit
  • Fixing Things and Cleaning Up
  • Erecting Monuments and Markers
  • Improving and Beautifying the Landscape
  • Making Great Things Happen with Volunteers
  • Publishing Books and Other Media
  • Embracing Our Neighborhood
  • Building Buildings
  • Educating and Remembering in Creative Ways
  • Planting New Horticultural Collections
  • Growing and Evolving as an Organization
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SMA’s Board of Directors, 2010

The effort of a few dedicated citizens to improve Old City Cemetery in the spring of 1866 continues today, stronger and more committed than ever. SMA’s signature anniversary project for 2016 is the construction of the Comfort House, a small two-story building near the Chapel. The Comfort House will enhance the beauty and interest of the Cemetery, improve the overall visitor experience, and support the long-term sustainability of Lynchburg’s most visited historic site. This special anniversary gift to the City will begin a new chapter in the life of our unique “gravegarden.”

Please join us throughout 2016 as we build the Comfort House and celebrate SMA’s 150th birthday!

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Contact Info

401 Taylor Street
Lynchburg, Virginia 24501

Office: (434) 847-1465
Fax: (434) 856-2004

occ@gravegarden.org
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