Vamping in Hollywood
If you haven’t strolled through Hollywood Cemetery, or if it’s been a while, October is the perfect month to get out and walk the grounds. Hollywood was established in 1849 during the Victorian trend of making urban cemeteries more park-like and a place for people to meet, play and remember their loved ones. It even had a duck pond with boats near the entrance, which eventually had to be drained due to mosquitoes and other issues that occur when you have a large body of stagnant water nearby.
Hollywood consists of 130 acres of rolling hills, crossed with walking paths and roads overlooking the James River. If you’re a fan of history you’ll find graves of famous people including presidents, generals, authors and artists. The stonework is amazing, keep your eye out for the stone trees that were carved with such detail that they have peeling bark, vines, and mushrooms.
The Victorians were big fans of symbolism, so look for flowers and other symbols carved on the stones. A bud represents someone who died too soon, an even number of roses represents beauty and love (odd numbers tell another story), a morning glory means unrequited love, and the list goes on. Even in death the Victorians keep their personalities alive, somber at first glance, but whispering secrets to the discerning ear.
Speaking of secrets, what’s a walk through a cemetery in October without a little scare? Hollywood is also the home of the Richmond Vampire, visit his mausoleum if you dare. On the western side of the drained pond is the eternal home of William Wortham Pool. Rumor has it that Pool was accused of being a vampire and ran out of England in the 1800’s. He made his way to Virginia under cover of darkness, and now patiently waits for those foolish enough to enter the cemetery after dark.
Some think the lore began due to the unusual Egyptian and Masonic markings on the mausoleum, and the general eeriness of the structure. Who knows the actual origin story, but since the rumors started spreading in the 1960’s, methinks some beer, weed, and nearby college students may have something to do with it. Just a hunch.