“Most individuals are surprised when they visit Oakland.” says David, “It’s not what they thought it would look like.” Instead of row after row of tomb stones or plain stone mausoleums, the burial plots are hidden behind plumes of hydrangeas, clusters of lilies or weeping cyprus. “You don’t think of it as a cemetery, it’s just a beautiful place,” says David. “It is a place of serenity, a place of history, a place of unique art,” continues David, “all the sudden you get it. When you walk through the gate your blood pressure drops, you’re out of the city, and you’re transformed into another time and another state of mind. It’s part of the wow factor when someone visits.”
And then there’s the architecture and statues. Oakland is full of Victorian, Greek Revival, Gothic, Neo-classical, Egyptian and Exotic Revival art and architecture, as well as, several mausoleums which feature stained glass windows from Tiffany Studios. The statues range from avenging angel figures to carved likeness of the people who are buried there. No matter what time of year it is, Oakland has something of interest to see—it is a photographer’s dream.
David explains that local foot traffic is starting to increase. “There’s a dramatic revitalization that is occurring up and down Memorial Drive that will generate thousands of more people that will want to walk outside to enjoy the 48 acres of a historic Atlanta park,” he says. That traffic increases substantially during many of the events hosted by Oakland every year. The most popular is the Capturing the Spirit of Halloween Tour. David says, “six thousand people come through here over the course of six nights to listen to the stories of individuals and families that helped shape Atlanta in an interactive, story-telling way.” The event is not for telling ghost stories, “It’s designed to enlighten and not frighten,” says David. Costumed storytellers guide guests through the cemetery’s beautifully-lit Victorian gardens as they experience the stories of Atlanta’s sons and daughters come to life.