Oakland Cemetery will have a new visitor center


A new 10,000 square foot visitor center will be built outside the main west gate of the historic Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park.

The Oakland Historical Foundation said the building, designed by Smith Dalia Architects (see renderings above), will include a museum store, an atrium that will house interpretive exhibits, a multi-purpose classroom and space flexible event space, meeting space for rent and offices for the organization.

The exterior of the visitor center – clad in red brick in homage to the cemetery walls and walkways – will include a garden, entrance plaza and large lawn to provide additional green space.

The project is expected to come out of the ground later this year.

Oakland Historical Foundation executive director Richard Harker said the new building will also provide space for more diverse, weatherproof, year-round programming, including civic forums, kindergarten programs to grade 12 and adult education programs.

“The Oakland Cemetery uniquely reflects our city’s rich and diverse past, and we have long wanted to be an organization that can host city-wide discussions about our collective history and its ever-changing meaning. today,” Harker said. “This new building will enable us to realize that aspiration.”

The building will also serve as an amenity for the Memorial Drive Greenway, the linear park that begins at Oakland’s main gate and stretches along Memorial Drive to the State Capitol.

“We are thrilled to provide a community resource that also connects to the exciting developments around the BeltLine, the rapidly changing landscape of Memorial Drive, the rejuvenation of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood and the upcoming Heroes Walk across our north,” said Harker.

During construction, the Foundation will move its offices to temporary buildings outside the main gate at 273 Oakland Ave. SE.

The historic bell tower, which previously served as a visitor center, gift shop and office space, will become a flexible event, exhibit, classroom and meeting space. The circa 1899 steeple is currently undergoing a $12 million rehabilitation.


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