James Monroe Tomb

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James Monroe Tomb
Monroe Tomb 02.jpg
LocationHollywood Cemetery, 412 S. Cherry St., Richmond, Virginia
Coordinates37°32′6″N 77°27′20″W / 37.53500°N 77.45556°W / 37.53500; -77.45556Coordinates: 37°32′6″N 77°27′20″W / 37.53500°N 77.45556°W / 37.53500; -77.45556
ArchitectAlbert Lybrock
Architectural styleGothic Revival
Part ofHollywood Cemetery (#69000350)
NRHP reference #71001044
VLR #127-0221-0080
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 11, 1971[2]
Designated NHLNovember 11, 1971[3]
Designated CPNovember 12, 1969
Designated VLRMarch 19, 1997[1]
James Monroe Tomb, prior to 2016.

The James Monroe Tomb is the burial place of United States President James Monroe in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia, United States. The principal feature of the tomb is an architecturally unusual cast iron cage, designed by Albert Lybrock and installed in 1859, after Monroe's body was moved from Marble Cemetery in New York City. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971 for its unique architecture.[3][4] It has been given the local nickname of "The Birdcage".

Description and history[edit]

The James Monroe Tomb is located in the southern reaches of Hollywood Cemetery, in a prominent location surrounded by a circular drive and overlooking the James River. Monroe's body rests in a simple granite sarcophagus that is set on a granite plinth (platform). Surrounding the sarcophagus is an elaborate Gothic Revival cast iron "cage", measuring about 9 by 13 feet (2.7 m × 4.0 m). Each face of the cage has a lancet-arched shape similar to that found in the tracery of larger Gothic stained glass windows, with a rose window pattern at the top of the arch. On the long sides, this main arch is flanked by narrow arches. The corners of the cage have colonettes surmounted by tabernacle-like structures. The top of the cage consists of ogee-curved elements meeting at a central spire.[4] The grave of another president, John Tyler, is located just a few yards away.

James Monroe died in New York City in 1831, and was interred in New York City Marble Cemetery. In 1856 Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise sought to repatriate his remains to his native Virginia. The state appropriated funds, and Monroe's remains were transported to Richmond aboard the steamship Jamestown. The tomb, erected in 1859, was designed by the German-born architect Albert Lybrock, and its cast iron elements were cast by Wood and Perot of Philadelphia. The tomb is considered architecturally significant first for the scale of its use of cast iron, a material not commonly used at that time for that purpose, and for delicacy and degree of flamboyancy achieved in its creation, which could not have been done in stone.[4]

In 2015, as a part of plans to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Monroe's election as America's fifth president, Monroe's tomb received a $900,000 USD makeover from the Department of General Services in the state of Virginia. Almost 40 percent of the tomb's cast iron structure was repaired and the entire structure was returned to a color closer to its original state. The restoration took close to a year to complete, and was finished in September 2016.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  2. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ a b "James Monroe Tomb". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  4. ^ a b c W. B. Morton III (August 14, 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: James Monroe Tomb" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying two photos, from 1969 (32 KB)
  5. ^ Times-Dispatch, GRAHAM MOOMAW Richmond. "Monroe's 'birdcage' tomb at Hollywood Cemetery to be repaired ahead of bicentennial". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-11-26.

External links[edit]

Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. VA-843, "James Monroe Tomb, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Independent City, VA", 6 photos, 1 color transparency, 5 data pages, 1 photo caption page, supplemental material