Daily Distraction: Take a free walking tour of Green Lawn Cemetery

The first of three thematic tours led by local historian Doreen Uhas Sauer begins on Saturday, April 30

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
A bust of Gustavus Swan, by artist Nina Menduni, at Green Lawn Cemetery.

Green Lawn Cemetery is one of Central Ohio's gems. In fact, in a 2020 Weekend Wanderlust column, Kevin J. Elliott posited that the 360-acre South Side cemetery might be the greatest museum in Columbus.

“At the time Green Lawn was founded, attitudes about death were influenced more by the Romantics and the arts. Death wasn’t seen as dark anymore,” Randy Rogers, president of the Green Lawn Cemetery Association, told Elliott. “These cemeteries just outside of the city were a part of the rural cemetery movement. You wanted a cemetery with green space, natural topography and old growth. Green Lawn actually came before Columbus’ first city park, which was Goodale in 1850.”

More:Weekend Wanderlust: Is Green Lawn Cemetery the greatest museum in Columbus?

To go deeper into Green Lawn and its history, Columbus Landmarks is offering a series of spring walking tours led by local author and historian Doreen Uhas Sauer, a Columbus treasure herself. According to Columbus Landmarks, "These are special thematic walks that explore the history of the rural cemetery movement at Green Lawn and the evolution of the cemetery from a private burial ground for prominent citizens to a public cemetery."

More:'Forgotten Landmarks of Columbus' book recounts what was saved and what was lost

The tours are free, though registration is required, and the first one kicks off on Saturday, April 30, at 10 a.m., with two more dates in May. Titled "'Deliver Us From That Terrible Scourge': The Rural Cemetery Movement Takes Root," the tour will feature "a discussion of how societal attitudes changed views about the afterlife, the conclusions drawn from the 2004 archaeological work done with the North Market reburials, a national look at African American burial grounds, and the changing urban landscape that affected the rural cemetery movement."

Future themes include "'We Pray for the Sick and Bury the Dead': Accepting or Redlining the Dead? Green Lawn as a Crossroads" in May/June and "'Tasteful and Appropriate Decoration and Improvement': Art, Artifice, and the Natural World" in June.

P.S. Green Lawn is also a great place for birds.