Cedar Grove Cemetery was established as Norfolk’s first municipal cemetery in 1825 following the closure of St. Paul’s churchyard and the enactment of an ordinance restricting the creation and/or use of private burial grounds within city limits.
Like Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Grove was designed in the Victorian park fashion. It is different from Elmwood Cemetery in that it has several large family vaults, which were popular from 1830 – 1870. These vaults are half above ground and half below ground and are usually an arched structure of masonry or concrete containing either shelves or enclosed spaces inside upon/in which to place coffins. Family vaults could hold up to 20 family members. Cedar Grove also has some unusual honeycomb tombs wherein a rectangular chamber is enclosed by an arc of outer walling so that the graves multiply outwards from the original single cell at the center.
Cedar Grove one of three known sites containing mass burials of Yellow Fever victims. Yellow Fever struck Norfolk in 1795, 1802, 1821 and 1855. At the height of the 1821 and 1855 epidemics, nearly 100 Norfolk citizens died on a daily basis. The bodies were loaded onto a wagon and brought to Cedar Grove Cemetery. If the family had a lot, the body was buried on the family lot. If the family had no lot, the body was buried in a mass grave.
Notable burials in Cedar Grove include many Civil War soldiers and Norfolk founding families.