History

Virtual Preservation Tour: Bethany Cemetery

Preservation-Society , April 13, 2020

While you’re stuck at home, we would like to share with you some of our favorite places in Charleston. Join the Preservation Society every week, as we share a virtual tour through the diverse burial grounds of the Charleston Cemetery Historic District!

Bethany Cemetery was established by St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1856. The congregation was founded in 1840 by German immigrants who wished to worship in their native language. In 1841, the church developed its first burial ground on Reid and Amherst Streets. Known as Hampstead or God’s Acre Cemetery, the cemetery quickly filled due to the increased number of deaths caused by yellow fever outbreaks. In 1856, the church purchased lands within the Village of Magnolia Umbra for the creation of a new burial ground dedicated “Bethania” or “Bethany” Cemetery. The oldest portions of the graveyard, located near the entrance gates, refl ect the styles and patterns of the Rural Cemetery Movement of the mid-19th century. Much like Magnolia Cemetery, these sections feature curving and winding thoroughfares that were likely covered in crushed oyster shells. Along these paths, elaborate Victorian monuments are incorporated into the landscape. Modern sections follow more grid like paths. In 2009, the remains of 437 people previously buried at the original cemetery on Reid Street were reinterred at Bethany Cemetery.