Harmony Grove Cemetery
Harmony Grove Cemetery sits on a small rise at the southwest corner of West Paces Ferry and Chatham Roads. Surrounded by trees, Harmony Grove encompasses a little less than one acre of land and contains at least 171 burials. Forty of the graves are marked with traditional inscribed headstones while the rest are either unmarked or marked by fieldstones.
Although the exact origins of the Cemetery are unclear, the earliest documented burials are attributable to the family of James H. “Whispering” Smith who owned land near the cemetery. The first recorded burial in the cemetery belongs to Smith’s infant son, James, who died on March 4, 1870.
Whispering Smith died two years later and joined his son at Harmony Grove. In his will, Smith designated a two acre piece of property on present day Arden Road to be used by local African Americans for worship purposes. The church the African Americans built, New Hope A.M.E., still holds worship services some 135 years after Smith’s death.
Read more about the history of Harmony Grove Cemetery in a document here as well as within our own site here.
In 2006, recognizing the historic significance of the cemetery, the Buckhead Heritage Society undertook an extensive rehabilitation of the cemetery. Buckhead Heritage enlisted the services of mortuary archaeologists, landscape architects and headstone repair experts during the rehabilitation, which lasted approximately 3 years and received the 2009 Preservation Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Harmony Grove Cemetery now exists as a functional green space in Buckhead and a tangible link to Buckhead’s rural past. Notable occupants of Harmony Grove Cemetery include Confederate Civil War veterans, prominent local businessmen, the father of Dorothy Shay (better known as The Park Avenue Hillbillie) and even the Great Grandparents of actress, Julia Roberts.
Read about the Harmony Grove Cemetery Project Phases.
View the Photo Gallery for Harmony Grove Cemetery rehabilitation project:
In 2011, Buckhead Heritage contracted with Dustin Hornsby, the Restoration Manager at Historic Oakland Foundation, to repair seven headstones that were determined to be preservation priorities at the site.
View Before and After Pictures of the Headstone Repairs at Harmony Grove Cemetery.
Through our efforts to research Harmony Grove, we have assembled a good bit of information in regards to obituaries of those interred in the cemetery, land deeds of the property dating back to the late 1800’s, and newspaper articles concerning the church or its parishioners from the early 1900’s.
Historical AJC Articles:
AJC 1896-At War No Longer
AJC 1896-Church Locked Up
AJC 1896-Strife in the Ranks
AJC 1896-Sues for Damages
AJC 1903- Suit to Foreclose on Sister Church
Land Ownership Documentation:
City Council Resolution
James H. Smith Will 7.16.1872
Wiley Rice Deed 8.26.1889
Rice Deed 1892
Buckhead Heritage Society
3180 Mathieson Drive, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30305