When Richmond’s oldest cemetery on the grounds of St. John’s Churchyard was nearing capacity in 1822, the four-acre New Burying Ground atop Shockoe Hill north of downtown was established. With individual and family plots as well as a section for indigent burials, the cemetery was surveyed by Richard Young and designed in a block and grid fashion reflective of the growing City of Richmond. Additional land purchases in 1833, 1850, and 1870 expanded the cemetery to its current 12.7 acres.
Situated on gently rolling terrain adjacent to Hebrew Cemetery, the burial ground is enclosed by a pilastered brick wall crowned with brick coping and is accessed through six iron gates. Four orthogonal roadways divide the cemetery into a nine-parcel grid and numerous grass pathways subdivide each section. Throughout the nineteenth century the City planted magnolias, tulip poplar, Virginia elm, Kentucky coffeetree, lilac, crape myrtle, boxwood, and yew. Though some of the plantings have suffered over the years, many of these trees and shrubs survive today.
Demonstrating a wide range of funerary art styles, diverse examples of stone statuary, headstones, and monuments have been executed in pink granite, marble, limestone, and sandstone. Female mourning figures, classical columns, obelisks, urns, chest vaults, and treestones are found throughout the cemetery. Today, though no longer used for burials, the cemetery is maintained by the City and Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery as a historic site and park. In 1995 the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.