|Richmond, VA||July 13, 2005|
President James Monroe’s Gothic sepulcher is a highlight of Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, overshadowing the final resting place of even his spouse of 44 years, First Lady Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. Mrs. Monroe’s marker is flush with the ground on the right hand side of this image, beside the wrought iron structure. A similar plaque on the left signifies the interment site of daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur. The twentieth-century monument erected over the graves of President John Tyler and First Lady Julia Tyler is shown in back and to the left of “the Birdcage,” as some call the fifth chief executive’s tomb.
The final resting place of Mrs. Monroe, as photographed by my father during our family vacation in summer 2005. After her death in 1830, the former first lady was buried at the Monroe plantation in Loudoun County, Virginia — Oak Hill. She was exhumed and buried on November 18, 1903 beside her husband, who himself had been disinterred from his original Manhattan gravesite in 1858.
Although the section where Elizabeth Monroe is interred — Presidents Circle — underwent many upgrades in the decade that passed between my first and second visits to Hollywood Cemetery, the former first lady’s grave marker itself saw no changes.
However, between my second and third visits, the green patina was removed from Mrs. Monroe’s two markers. This restored them to their original, unvarnished appearance. Unfortunately, the dog whose head is seen here poking out from behind James Monroe’s memorial on the right side is not permanently stationed at Presidents Circle to greet visitors. Her name was Laika.
"Mrs. Monroe is an elegant, accomplished woman. She possesses a charming mind and dignity of manners, which peculiarly fit her for her elevated station. Her retired domestic habits will be much annoyed by what is here called society, if she does not change the etiquette (if it may be called so) established by Mrs. Washington, Adams, and Madison--a routine which her feeble constitution will not permit her to encounter[.]”
circa early 1817, in "a letter from Washington, dated previously to the inauguration of Mr. Monroe in his new office," as conveyed in the 1842 book Lives of the Presidents of the United States by Robert W. Lincoln
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
Hollywood Cemetery. “Search Burial Records: Elizabeth Kortright Monroe.” Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.hollywoodcemetery.org/genealogy/burial-records.
Lincoln, Robert W. Lives of the Presidents of the United States. New York: E. Kearny, 1842. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=EKsLAAAAIAAJ&pg=GBS.PP1.