About the Friends

Since its inception in 1999, members of the Friends of Oconee Hill Cemetery have undertaken or supported a number of projects including:


  • Launched a Facebook page to bring greater exposure to the cemetery and the good things going on here.
  • Partnered w/ high school seniors at Athens Academy in an advanced history research class and Georgia Virtual History Project – these students completed research and writings on persons buried here at the cemetery. This research will aid the Friends in developing more self guided tours as well as to the cemetery web site with historical stories of interesting people buried here.
  • Tree work – the Friends sponsored the removal of many unsafe and fallen trees in 2015 and the purchase and planting of 6 new High Beam Over Cup Oaks at the entrance.
  • The Friends happily supported the Trustees when the need arose in 2015 for a new lawnmower. The grounds crew operates two mowers at all times during growing season. The Friends helped pay for half of the cost for this new piece of equipment. We are grateful for the good work the crew does and glad we could do our part to support the Trustees.
  • The cemetery hosted its first wedding ever, to our knowledge, with the Friends helping coordinating the event. On a beautiful spring day, the happy couple used the Wingfield Chapel for their ceremony and the Sexton's House for the reception.
  • The Jacob Phinizy Lot restoration was completed this past year. This lot took a direct hit from a tree that fell in a storm in the summer of 2013. Damaged were a statue, ledger top, and 3 sides of the iron fence. The Friends were able to raise money from Phinizy family members and complete the restoration of the lot.
  • The Friends initiated a partnership with UGA Hargrett Library. The library at UGA is now the official home to the archives of the FOHC as well as the trustees. This is a welcome step in our opinion as it will 1) keep the archives safe and 2) provide the general public engaged in historical research with information about the cemetery.
  • The Georgia Trust For Historic Preservation held their annual meeting in Athens and Oconee Hill Cemetery was a featured stop on their Georgia Trust Ramble – a tour of historic homes and places in Athens. The Friends were pleased to welcome visitors to the Sexton's House to show off the restoration work the Friends sponsored with this house.
  • As the landscaping of the Wingfield Chapel area begins, active gardeners were at work in this area. In honor of Harry and JoAnn Yates, drifts of hellebores have been planted on the knoll where the chapel sits. Visitors can now see the lovely plants as they cross the bridge. Picadilly Farm and Nursery donated a portion of the plants and the Friends purchased more so that over 500 plants could grace the hillside.
  • The Sextons House back steps required removal and replacement in 2015. The Friends took the lead in making sure the house remains in good working order.
  • Over the past year of 2015, the Friends have joined with the Trustees to support Newspaper Ads in the ABH. We hope you have noticed the ads appearing every other Sunday. We believe this is a worthwhile effort as sales of lots have increased during this same time.
  • Watson Brown Foundation Jr Board Grant: the Friends received a grant toward production of maps, lit, tours, etc to aid in the education of the historical significance of the cemetery with visitors.
  • The Friends have funded video and audio recordings about the history of the cemetery. Charlotte Marshall has agreed to be interviewed and tell stories about the cemetery. These stories are over-laid with photographs of the cemetery's history and made into a historical video.
  • Conducted a Forest Resources Inventory and Management Plan through Barneycastle Forestry Services to best understand the health of trees on the property and to receive recommendations for new plantings of trees in the future.
  • Conducted the removal of many dangerous trees that were dead, dying, or diseased that posed a threat to gravesites.
  • Conducted a research and study of veteran graves in the old section of the cemetery through Nancy O'Hare of the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia. The goal of this research was to accurately map each veteran's grave and cross reference the data with burials that are not under perpetual care. Through a generous gift to the cemetery, most of these veterans' graves that have been documented will soon be moved into perpetual care.
  • The Friends were a major sponsor at the UGA Circle Gallery exhibit, "Landscapes of The Hereafter: Three Historic Cemeteries in Athens, Georgia" presented by the UGA Department of Environmental Design. Oconee Hill Cemetery was one of these three cemeteries in the exhibit.
  • Multiple forest "cleanups" of the African American - Pauper section of the cemetery.
  • Construction and dedication of the Wingfield Chapel.
  • Sandblasting and painting of the 1899 bridge across the Oconee River
  • Listing of Oconee Hill Cemetery to the National Register of Historic Places
  • Restoration of the Well House near the cemetery entrance, a project of the Heritage Garden Club
  • Installation of sturdy iron railings beside steps throughout the cemetery (railings were donated by Emmanuel Episcopal Church, and a dozen new custom built railings were purchased by the Friends)
  • Major clean up of Valley and West Hill sections
  • An analysis of the broken water lines throughout the cemetery
  • Through a generous donation by JoAn and Tony Salloum, the restoration of a retaining wall near an infant's grave
  • Assessment of plantings, retaining walls, iron railings, etc. with the assistance of the University of Georgia's School of Environmental Design and preservationists from the school
  • Placement of an historic marker near the entrance of Oconee Hill Cemetery, a project of the Thomas Miller Chapter, the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century
  • Restoration of the Sexton's House
  • Planting new shade trees
  • Development of a memorial plaza and flagpole near the entrance of the cemetery that is dedicated to veterans of all wars
  • Helping families with restoration projects
  • Repair and painting of iron railings along road above Valley section