Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is one of the oldest “garden” cemeteries in the United States. Woodland was founded in 1841 by John Van Cleve, the first male child born in Dayton. The cemetery began with 40 acres southeast of Dayton and has been enlarged to its present size of 200 acres. Over 3,000 trees and 165 specimens of native Midwestern trees and woody plants grace the rolling hills. Many of the trees are more than a century old and 9 have been designated “Ohio Champions.” The highest point in Dayton is within the cemetery, and during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, it became a place of refuge.
The Romanesque gateway, chapel and office, completed in 1889, are on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings were constructed of the stone from the original cemetery wall. The chapel has one of the finest original Tiffany windows in the country. A mausoleum, with a rock and bronze exterior, features twenty-two varieties of imported marble and twelve large stained glass windows inspired by famous literary works. It was added in 1970. The oldest original 105-acre section of the cemetery, known as “Victorian,” received a second designation as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
The monuments, ranging from rugged boulders to Greek statues and temples, memorialize the lives of people who helped shape the nation and the city. Woodland is the final resting place for more than 100,000 people, including Wilbur and Orville Wright, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James M. Cox, Erma Bombeck, Charles Kettering, and John H. Patterson. Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum conducts monthly tours to the public about the cemetery’s history and the people interred there.
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