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Magnolia Cemetery — Charleston, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County  |  Magnolia Cemetery

Historic Magnolia Cemetery on the banks of the Cooper River in northern peninsular Charleston was established in 1850. It rests on 92 acres of a former rice plantation, Magnolia Umbra. The current superintendent’s office, pictured below, was the former plantation home and dates to 1805.

Magnolia Umbra Plantation House

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The photo below shows a “receiving tomb” at Magnolia Cemetery. A receiving tomb, as its name implies, defines a place where the dead were placed while a final burial site was prepared.


Keith Rice of Aiken © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The receiving tomb at Magnolia Cemetery is listed as one of the Preservation Society of Charleston’s Seven to Save, a program the organization says “is an annual outreach program of the Preservation Society of Charleston designed to focus the work of the organization in a proactive and constructive way, delivering intellectual and financial resources to raise awareness and support for key preservation projects in Charleston and the region.”

Magnolia Cemetery

Terri Vines of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The burial grounds were planned during a mid-nineteenth century rural cemetery trend in the United States. A yellow fever outbreak gripped Charleston in the 1850s, creating an even greater need for public cemeteries such as this one.

Magnolia Cemetery Statue

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Magnolia Cemetery is a museum of sorts. It was laid out by noted architect Edward C. Jones, who also designed the United States Custom House on East Bay Street, among other popular buildings throughout Charleston and South Carolina.

Magnolia Cemetery Charleston

Andy Hunter of North Augusta © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The funerary art seen at Magnolia Cemetery is considered to be among the most beautiful examples in the country. Mausoleums, memorials, headstones, and statuary adorn the landscape with their stories of the deceased and reflections of spirituality.

Magnolia Cemetery Markers

Andy Hunter of North Augusta © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

This area, located near the cemetery office, is a special section dedicated to the brave souls who fought and were killed during the Civil War.

Confederate Section of Magnolia Cemetery

Connie Fowler of Mount Pleasant, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The grounds also serve as the final resting place of many prominent South Carolinians, including several former governors. The picture below shows the resting place of the third and final crew of the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine. On the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley was the first submarine to successfully attack and sink an enemy ship, the USS Housatonic.


E. Karl Braun of North Charleston, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The crew’s remains were recovered, along with the Hunley itself, on August 8, 2000. The remains were laid to rest in Magnolia Cemetery on April 17, 2004. The crew was composed of Lieutenant George E. Dixon (Commander), Frank Collins, Joseph F. Ridgaway, James A. Wicks, Arnold Becker, Corporal C. F. Carlsen, C. Lumpkin, and Augustus Miller.

Magnolia Cemetery Grave Marker

Kathie Lee of Hollywood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The neighboring chapel of Bethany Cemetery can be seen as you exit the gates of Magnolia Cemetery.

Magnolia Cemetery

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Learn more about famous people buried in Magnolia Cemetery.

More Pictures of Magnolia Cemetery

Tombs at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston

E. Karl Braun of North Charleston, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Magnolia Cemetery is listed in the National Register:

Magnolia Cemetery, a large public cemetery, covers approximately 92 acres and contains the graves of numerous prominent South Carolinians. Established in 1850, Magnolia is extensively landscaped with winding drives and paths interspersed with small ponds and a lake, and contains excellent examples of late 19th century cemetery architecture and sculpture. The original design included a chapel, formal garden, keeper’s house, and receiving room. Of the original cemetery structures, the Receiving Tomb remains, plus a ca. 1805 structure (now the superintendent’s office), three 1890s structures, five mausoleums, and many impressive examples of cemetery art and architecture. Also remaining are excellent examples of iron work, of the late 19th century and remnants of the original landscape patterns. Magnolia enjoyed prominence during the mid and late 19th century, a time when it was also a popular spot for picnicking during the Victorian era. The cemetery is an excellent reflection of the arts, tastes, and social mores of the 19th century.

Reflections on Magnolia Cemetery

Contributor Keith Rice shares, “Magnolia Cemetery is the most fascinating place with all of the live oaks and ornate old graves.”

Add your own reflections here.

Magnolia Cemetery Info

Address: 70 Cunnington Avenue, Charleston, SC 29405
GPS Coordinates: 32.816154,-79.946349

Magnolia Cemetery Map

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15 Comments about Magnolia Cemetery

tammy flowersNo Gravatar says:
October 18th, 2017 at 2:27 am

My Great great Grandfather Soloman Jacob Rothrock is buried there. He died during the Civil War. He was born 2-12-1834 and died in 1864 in a hospital there of yellow fever. If you have any information on him could you let me know.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
June 8th, 2015 at 8:53 am

I wish we had the resources to help you! Best of luck in your search.

SheilaNo Gravatar says:
June 2nd, 2015 at 10:59 am

Can you tell me how I would find where a person has their burial plot, and which cemetery? I have a friend that lived in Georgia and he said he had a cemetery plot paid in full on Johns Island, South Carolina, and he has now passed. I can’t reach any of his kin? Can you help me?

Jan SieverNo Gravatar says:
February 12th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Interested in Meiburg burials.

ChipNo Gravatar says:
August 30th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Individual information about deceased South Carolinians can often be paired up with the companion memorial on

Franklin Clark SheenNo Gravatar says:
July 30th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I have a death notice with picture that says:
” Sybil Amelia
Wife of
E. W. Gurley
Died at Charleston, So. Ca.
March 21, 1908
A True Wife. A Loving Mother. A Good Woman”

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
March 7th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi Kim! Thank you so much for your kind words. We believe that the best place to find this information would be the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Even if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, they will be able to steer you in the right direction. Good Luck! – SCIWAY

Kim PorterNo Gravatar says:
March 6th, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Thanks so much for your work on this site. Is there a list of those buried in this cemetery? I’m hoping to locate my great grandamother who is reportedly buried there. Her name was Sybil Amelia Gurley and she possibly married a man by the last name of Bicaise before she died. Any ideas how to find her grave?

James D PayneNo Gravatar says:
February 11th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I was looking for Capt Thomas Paine, Sr who was a harbor master in Charleston. He died 1828 and was buried in cemetery of Second Presbyterian Church at 342 Meeting Street in Charleston. Captain Thomas Paine was buried with sons Stephen Paine, who died in 1811, and Joseph Bridgham Paine, who died in 1827. They are all three buried in the cemetery at Second Presbyterian Church, Charleston, Lot 72, Square 3, Stone # 8. Was it customary to be buried stacked on top of each casket?

I also am trying to find Nathaniel Russell Paine’s grave in Magnolia Cemetery. He was buried about 1863-1865.

James Payne

ChipNo Gravatar says:
January 22nd, 2011 at 7:15 pm

William Burrows Smith, was an industrious man, leaving school at the age of 15 to seek his fortune in the cotton factorage business (a sort of business agent for the cotton planters to use to sell their cotton harvests to the various milling interests.) The pyramid was erected by his family after his death, and his remains entombed. His crypt is behind the marble panel at the center back wall, under the stain glass window. His wife Frances Susan Jones Smith is entombed directly under his crypt.

To the left of the door, are three kin: Daughter Helen Smith Whaley (wife of William Baynard Whaley, Jr), Her son, Rep Richard Smith Whaley, who also was appointed by the president to the bench as a Federal Judge, and Lillian Heyward Nylander, a daughter of Frances ‘Fannie’ Smith Heyward (Helen’s older sister). To the right of the front door, is another of Helen’s sons and daughter-in-law. Dr Thomas Prioleau Whaley and his wife Henrietta, and on the bottom right, Heyward Champion, who died young, was a manager at Worthington Arms Co. He was the grandson of Fannie Smith Heyward, and the brother to the famous naval aviator, Carleton Cole Champion, Jr. All these names are documented and have memorials on the web at Find A Grave. They are a fascinating and very accomplished family. The pyramid mausoleum is featured on Ted Phillip’s book about Magnolia, ‘City of the Silent’.

susan thomasNo Gravatar says:
November 30th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Spent a very scary Halloween night walking thru Magnolia cemetary with friends back in the teenage years. Beautiful cemetary and several family friends and family members are buried there.

sharon shislerNo Gravatar says:
November 14th, 2010 at 11:34 am

My great grandparents are buried here.

Dee WoodsNo Gravatar says:
August 29th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Spent many peaceful hours visiting those who had given their lives for what they believed to be right. I will always cherish those memories.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
August 9th, 2010 at 7:40 am

Hello! It is such a beautiful cemetery. We weren’t able to uncover very much information about the pyramid online, but we do know that it is called the “Wm. Smith Pyramid” and that there are very few of these pyramid-styled mausoleums in our country. Apparently, they were created for wealthy tycoons who wanted to be remembered for as long as the ancient Egyptian pharaohs! Here is a picture of the pyramid, and we hope this helps!

sherylNo Gravatar says:
August 7th, 2010 at 11:47 am



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