Houston Treasure: Glenwood Cemetery

A cemetery may not be everyone’s idea of a local treasure, but there is one in Houston that fits the description. It’s not just a cemetery… it’s a sanctuary for those who shaped the city of Houston throughout its history. Established in 1872, early settlers, city founders, empire builders and beloved city residents rest here. Most famously, it is the final resting place of billionaire businessman Howard Hughes. But it’s the men and women who shaped the city of Houston that catch my eye – Milam, Allen, Rice, Cooley, Hermann, Harris, Hobby, Hofheinz, and Wortham. Glenwood Cemetery is a place of contrast – loss & peace, pain & comfort, simplicity & beauty, and history in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers. This is my photo tribute to those who rest here.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight that ripened grain; I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there; I did not die.”
– Irish funeral prayer

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38 Comments

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38 responses to “Houston Treasure: Glenwood Cemetery

  1. Doris D.

    Thank you for this post. I too love cemetaries and when we lived in France years ago we would take a Sunday afternoon ride out in the country and stop at the cemetaries. Such a beautiful and peaceful place.

  2. Amy

    Beautiful photos! Those statues are amazing and that oak tree is magnificent. But, what’s up with that squirrel?
    The Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans is another great one to walk around and explore.

    • Sorry. I loved the squirrel photo, since I am a rabid fan of squirrels. I don’t know who Mary Eleanor is, but in my book she’s the luckiest girl in Glenwood. I would LOVE to think that squirrels might play on my grave some day. Thanks for the tip on Lafayette in New Orleans. We’ve been to the Metairie Cemetary outside of New Orleans. It’s beautiful. Those ornate above-ground crypts are truly works of art. I could spend all day there. Next time we go back, I’ll have to visit Lafayette.

      • Amy

        No, I love the squirrel, too! I just want to know what he is doing all stretched out like that. Cooling his belly on the marble? To funny!
        It’s just a short trip on the St. Charles car into the Garden District. Every corner is a potential photo opportunity.

      • There were actually 8-10 squirrels playing in this section of the cemetery. They were running through the trees and jumping over the grave markers. When we came close to them, this one stretched out and posed. Couldn’t believe it. He was adorable. Something tells me this was not his first photo shoot.

  3. I too love cemeteries. Thanks for sharing your great photos.
    As a birder–well, I used to be more active and kept a life list and everything–cemeteries are often referenced as great places to find birds, like the squirrels, just living in the beautiful surroundings.

    • I can just imagine that Glenwood would be a great place to see birds. There are so many beautiful old live oaks. It would be a lovely place for birds to find sanctuary in the middle of a large city. Thanks, Patti.

  4. Lovely photos…what gorgeous statues. And of course the squirrel clinging on for his life made me smile. I’m sure you wanted to bring him home with you! :)

    • Thanks, Kandi. I loved the statues, too. The ones that really get to me are the little angels and the weeping angels. You know there is great heartache involved when you see an angel weeping over someone. It’s very, very touching. And you’re right about the squirrel. If he’d jumped into the car, he’d be lounging on the sofa with Ziggy right now. You know me well!

  5. Nancy

    Wow! A hidden gem in Houston I didn’t know about! I need to take a visit over there since it’s close by my work! Love the black and white photos!

    Nancy
    Spring, Tx

    • Nancy,
      Thanks so much! Glenwood is a beautiful place, especially when the weather is nice. If you go, use the entrance on Washington Avenue. Google Maps showed an entrance off Memorial, but we had trouble finding it. I hope you make it.

  6. Such beautiful headstones! The tree seemed to embrace everything around it. The squirrel was a total surprise and made me sit back and smile.

    • That tree is outstanding. You’re right… it’s like a giant hug in the middle of the cemetery, which seems so appropriate. That squirrel surprised us, as well. In the middle of all that serenity, it was an unexpected treat to find a showman.

  7. We visited lots of cemeteries when we lived in England. Every old church had one, and they were great places to go to get the feel of the history of an area.

    • I agree, Margie. A cemetery is a great place to see the history of a place. My second favorite are the crypts in old churches. Westminster Abbey in London is my favorite.

  8. I’ve always thought cemeteries had such a haunting peacefulness to them. (No pun intended.) Something about them draws me in to read the headstones and wonder about the lives of those gone before me. The sculptures are beautiful, but that huge oak really steals the show. Almost as if the branches are offering a canopy of protection to the stones beneath it.

    Boy! Aren’t I the philosophical one today?

    • I thought the same thing. That live oak looked like a guardian, protecting the stones underneath it. The branches stretched out forever. Like it was trying to cover as many as possible. And some of those headstones were dated from the early to mid-1800’s. If trees have memories, this one must have a million tales to tell.

  9. There is just something about cemeteries that causes you to reflect. The older ones with these lovely sculptures are stunning (the Victorians really knew how to do it up!!). Today we have to have a stone that a lawnmower can go over … says something about our need for effeciency and speed. Many of our older cemeteries here in Oregon are vandalized and it just breaks my heart. I would LOVE to visit this cemetery when I visit Texas. My favorite cemetery I have visited so far is is Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah GA. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah, so I’ll have to check out the Bonaventure when I go. Thanks for the tip. I believe the ultimate respect should be shown when visiting cemeteries. We could learn a lot from cultures who value their elders and ancestors. I can’t imagine someone vandalizing a cemetery. What could they possibly be thinking? Maybe that’s the problem… they’re not. I hope you make it to Houston to visit, Cindy. I’d love to think that others are sitting under that huge live oak, soaking up the history of our city and enjoying the solitude at Glenwood.

  10. Pat Counts

    Have you been to the cemetery over in Richmond? It is the Morton Cemetery that is very close to Sandy McGee’s. It is so peaceful and pretty. Mirabeau Lamar and several famous early settlers (Jane Long I think) are buried there. It has just opened back up for more burial plots and a friend whose husband died in January was buried there. You must go visit. Pat

    • I haven’t been there, Pat, but I will make a point of going now. Thanks for the tip!

      • Cindy

        Let’s do lunch this summer at Sandy McGee’s and then take a walk thru. I have ancestors in the Morton Cemetary. It is very historic but not quite as beautiful as Glenwood.

      • Sounds like a plan! I’ve never dined at Sandy McGee’s, but I’ve heard it’s fabulous. Let’s invite Pat, since she recommended it. I’d love to see if we could find and photograph your ancestors. How cool would that be?

  11. criandonoskat

    Eres una fotógrafa excelente. Esa escultura del ángel, en la segunda foto, también me ha parecido hermosa. Es mi preferida. Me han gustado mucho las fotos en blanco y negro.
    You are an excellent photographer. The sculpture of the angel, in the second photo, also I found beautiful. This is my favorite. I have relly enjoyed the photos in black and white.
    Katrina

    • Thank you, Katrina. I love the angel sculptures, too. Especially the weeping angels. They’re so beautifully emotional to me. I also love those gorgeous live oak trees. They are magnificent.

  12. Big Sis

    Love the statues!! They are so beautiful and graceful. And I love the old Oak, it looks as if it is spreading it’s arms out to protect those buried there. And I love your cheeky little squirrel!! It’s as if he was saying, “look at me in this pose!!” I love that you took the photos in black & white – a lost art, almost!

    • Thanks, Sis. That squirrel was a hoot. First he ran across in front of us, then when I put my camera up, he jumped on that headstone and stretched out to pose. I swear, it was like he new exactly what he was doing. Wish I’d had some raw trailmix to reward him for his troubles!

  13. What a great place to…….hang out? Really pretty.
    What a little comic squirrel is.
    So cute.

    • Maybe I’m a little weird, but I feel a great sense of serenity in a cemetery. A funeral is the last place on earth I want to be (pardon the pun), but I could spend all day in a beautiful cemetery. I always leave with a great appreciation for life and the people I love. And the squirrels are a nice bonus.

  14. KJ

    Excellent photos! I enjoy visiting cemeteries to remind me…we truly are only here for a very short time. So many didn’t even get to grow up way back when. It’s humbling.
    I had to w/d from volunterring for the Ironman so I just might head on over and visit Glenwood before the heat becomes unbearable…soon, very soon. Wa.

  15. Ladylisabear69

    What a wonderful place to explore. One day, while staying at a friend’s parents’ house I went for a walk. I found a small church and an overgrown graveyard that I ended up exploring with my camera for a while. They didn’t even know that it was down there. Friends of the family live next to a small one up in the Catskills and we used to play hide and seek in there. And the squirrel shot is just fun. Thanks for the smile.

    • My mother used to live a few blocks from an old cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. When we would visit for the holidays, I loved to walk through it. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  16. Gorgeous pics! I know some people think its creepy, but I really enjoy walking through cemetaries, reading the stones, and soaking up the quiet and history.

    • Thanks! It’s a gorgeous place, so taking photos is the easy part. Forcing myself to leave in under 4 hours is the hard part. I could spend an entire day there. Just me, the trees, the squirrels and all the peace and quiet you can stand.

  17. Fabulous photos. While in Houston we lived in the Heights, and your pics very much remind me of our afternoon walks along Bayland Avenue. Thanks for bringing me a little slice of home. (again!) :)

    • How nice! I’m so happy I was able to bring you a little piece of home (again). If it helps you miss Houston a little less, I can share that the Chronicle this morning announced that this year’s hurricane season has the potential to be a record-setting mess! Bet you don’t miss that part, huh? On the up side, we could really use the rain!

  18. karen Hillje

    Beautiful photos…………

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