Elmwood Cemetery Lawson's Cypress

SPECIES: chamaecyparis lawsoniana DIAMETER: 30.5 HEIGHT: 50' SPREAD: 25' ORIGINAL TREASURE TREE: No

Tree Location

Address:

700 Block of West 6th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

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Coordinates:

35.23837
-80.849059

 

History

With Settlers Cemetery on W. Fifth Street, the only public burial ground in Charlotte at the time, rapidly filling to capacity, and more people living and dying in the ever growing town of Charlotte every year, municipal leaders decide it was time to make more room for departed souls.  In 1853, the city purchased a tract of land that would eventually make up Elmwood and Pinewood Cemeteries.   Elmwood would be for the town’s whites and Pinewood for the African American population. 

The combined cemeteries contain a veritable who’s who of Charlottes late 19th and early 20th century elite.  Residents of the  cemetery include; textile pioneer D.A. Tompkins, developer Edward Dilworth Latta, former Charlotte mayor S. S. McNinch, and W.W. Smith, Charlotte’s first major black architect.  Shaded by mature broad leaf trees and dotted with Eastern red cedars, boxwoods, and flowering ornamentals, the cemetery is a beautiful if not serine resting place.

Over  the family plots of Coddington, Neely, Beatty, and W. J. Fite, stands a mature Lawson’s Cypress.  On first glance this evergreen tree looks like one of the common Eastern red cedars smattered throughout the landscape, but upon closer inspection the difference is clear.  Furrowed reddish brown bark and globose seed cones give the plant away as a tree purposely planted for the comfort of the lost, and those who come to remember them. 

In 1969 the fence separating Pinewood and Elmwood Cemeteries was removed, creating one resting place.  Today the cemetery is a favorite for runners, bicyclists, and amateur historians interested in learning more about our city.  The Lawson’s cypress’ canopy looms over the Coddington mausoleum, and its roots impose themselves on nearby marble markers.  This tree may have been forgotten by many, but still shines as a Jewel of Queen Charlotte’s Crown.

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