The property was purchased in 1916 by John Mitchell, an African American newspaper editor and civil rights activist in Richmond. Mr. Mitchell was the president of the Repton Land Corp and Repton Land Corp acquired the property from the Richmond Sand & Gravel Company,
Opened in 1917, during the Jim Crow era in the capital of the Confederacy, Woodland's roads and front gate were built by local African American contractors. In 1916 when the cemetery was under construction, there was a pond that was used as a recreational area for families to picnic and paddle boat. Plans were underway to install a meditation fountain for families to reflect on their departed loved ones. John Mitchell’s desire was to create a dignified and respectful place for African American families to come and pay homage to their deceased family members.
Not only are the African American elite of Richmond buried here but Woodland has served as a dignified resting place for our US veterans of the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Woodland Cemetery is a testament to the perseverance, dignity, and the desires of the African American community to be respected. John Mitchell was acutely aware of these feelings and his vision provided a way for respect to be shown with pride.
Notable Interments at Woodland
Woodland is the final resting place for thousands of African Americans. Former slaves, community contributors, church leaders, activists, doctors, lawyers, dentists, and educators are interred at Woodland. Just some of the most well-known include:
• Arthur Ashe, professional tennis legend and civil rights activist.
• Rev. John Jasper, founder of Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church and prominent Virginia preacher.
• Charles T. Russell, architect and designer of Maggie L. Walker’s St. Luke Penny Savings Bank.
• Dr. Zenobia G. Gilpin, champion of public health and women’s diseases in the early 1900s.
• Arthur “Stretch” Gardner, local sports legend and Maggie Walker High School educator.
• William W. Browne, founder of the Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers.
• Winston H. Edmunds, Butler at the Governor of Virginia’s mansion for 47 years.
• Henry J. Moore, contractor and builder of the Richmond Beneficial Insurance Company building.
• Elizabeth Gaiters was the first Black nurse of the Richmond T. B. Association, and she was the first Black nurse in the Richmond Health Department.