It’s a 60 acre slice of peace and quiet in the shadow of downtown, with green, rolling hills, huge oak trees and some of the most intricate stone-work in the city. But as Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, Glenwood Cemetery is also the final resting place of many of the city’s founding fathers and a place where history still lives.
When you enter Glenwood Cemetery off of Washington Avenue just west of downtown, you go from a noisy street to a place of quiet solitude, with decades of Houston’s past engraved into stone, an indelible chronicle of the city’s founders and leaders.
“Glenwood is a history book of Houston.”
Martha Peterson is projects coordinator for the Glenwood Cemetery Historic Preservation Foundation.
Founded in 1871 by a prominant Houston nurseryman, Glenwood Cemetery was built in the tradition of an English cemetery park, with one lane roads that curve past hundreds of old headstones and family monuments engraved with names that anyone who drives in Houston would recognize.
“Street names are well-represented here. Right in front of the office is the Elgin family, for whom the street that we call Elgin is named. Just across the road here is Peter Gray, early Houston attorney, one of the co-founders of what is now Baker Botts and it was for him that Gray Avenue was named. And just directly across the road from him is Reisner, for whom Reisner Street was named.”
Anson Jones, Will Clayton, former Texas Governors William Hobby and Ross Sterling, local business leaders George R. Brown, John Wortham, and others like George Hermann, Edgar Lovett, Roy Hofheinz and Charlotte Allen are also buried here.
“Charlotte was the wife of one of the Allen brothers, Augustus, but she remained in Houston longer than either of the brothers and perhaps had more to do with the city’s direction than they did.”
But perhaps the most well-known person interred at Glenwood Cemetery is billionaire businessman, aviator and Hollywood filmaker Howard Hughes, who was buried in a small plot next to his mother and father in 1976. The spot is surrounded by a sturdy, wrought-iron fence.
“Mr. Hughes gets more visitors than most graves at Glenwood and I’m sure that he wouldn’t want his grave to be trampled by the curious so the fence kind of solves that problem for us. But I think it’s actually fairly attractive as well.”
Peterson says Glenwood Cemetery is an invaluable part of Houston’s past.
“Not only is it a place of enormous natural beauty but walking around here reminds you of the accomplishments of all the people who made our city what it is. Whether you know their stories or not, you know their names. I think remembering the things that they did helps keep that history alive.”
You can see pictures, including one of Howard Hughes’ grave, and find out more about Glenwood Cemetery on our website, KUHF.org.