Oconee Hill Cemetery: A Hidden Athens Jewel

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Athens, Georgia historian and author Charlotte Thomas Marshall gives a slide tour of Oconee Hill Cemetery, where she has given walking tours for decades. The program was originally presented at Athens-Clarke County Library in May 2016, and this version was recorded at the Winterville Center for Community and Culture in November 2016.

Across the street from Sanford Stadium is Oconee Hill Cemetery, an Athens jewel and a place many Athenians have never visited. Opened in 1856, it was designed by James Camak as a Victorian natural landscape, or park-like, cemetery. Originally 17 acres, it has grown over the years to almost 100 acres, and is filled with beautiful tombstones and mausoleums marking graves with familiar names such as Cobb, Lumpkin, Church, Hill, Hodgson, and many others. Oconee Hill is the final resting place of UGA Presidents, Confederate Generals, governors, senators, cabinet members, musicians and the many talented people who made Athens the special place it has become over the past 200 years.

Charlotte Thomas Marshall was the first woman to serve as a trustee of Oconee Hill Cemetery and is a founding member of the Friends of Oconee Hill Cemetery. She is the author of the book “Oconee Hill Cemetery of Athens, Georgia, Volume 1” and is presently working on the three concluding volumes. Mrs. Marshall has written or edited five other books on Athens history and genealogy, including the recent “The Tangible Past in Athens, Georgia,” the recipient of the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council’s Award for Excellence in Documenting Georgia’s History. She has given walking tours of the cemetery for over 45 years.

St. Marys Episcopal Church Steeple – 394 Oconee Street

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This steeple is all that remains of St. Marys Episcopal Church. The steeple is most famously remembered as the first location where the now world-famous band R.E.M. first performed for a live audience. The church served as a home for lead singer Michael Stipe and as a practice space for the band for many years. The steeple is in a gothic-eclectic style not commonly seen in Athens. Now, the Steeplechase Condominiums occupy most of the churchs original space. The steeple is in a fragile state, but no parties have stepped forward to aid in its preservation.