A walk through Detroit history: Group offering cemetery tours of well-known gravesites

Posted at 10:07 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 10:07:52-04

DETROIT, MI (WXYZ) — The long history of Metro Detroit can be told at one of these.

It’s the resting place of many legendary figures who once called this city home and this Halloween season, Preservation Detroit, is working to keep their memories alive.

“It’s one of the ways we bring funding into the organization,” cemetery tour facilitator at Preservation Detroit Kathleen Marcaccio said.

RELATED: Preservation Detroit offering Michiganders guided tours through the city's most historic gravesites

Preservation Detroit is a nonprofit organization working to preserve historic landmarks and share the rich history of the city.

Since 2000, they’ve offered tours of the downtown theatre district and in 2012 they took their tours to the graves.

“I think at the time our tour director was looking for other ways to bring history to the people and thought cemetery tours would be a fine idea,” Marcaccio said. “And I think the people that attend the tours are grateful to learn a little bit more.”

From Colonel Antoine Beaubien to Rosa Parks and former mayor Coleman Young, tour participants learn about Detroit's rich history far and near.

“And each cemetery of course has its own features, its own notables," Marcaccio said.

Tours take place at Mt. Elliott, Elmwood, Mt. Olivet, and Woodlawn cemeteries every Saturday.

"Mt. Elliot is the oldest being established in 1841," Marcaccio said. "We go into Elmwood cemetery and see famous names like Lewis Cass all the way up to current times with Mayor Coleman Young and Fred "Sonic" Smith. In Woodlawn Cemetery for example we have sports figures like Mel Farr and we got a lot of Motown musicians buried there.”

Marcaccio said many of these cemeteries were built on natural terrain, so any hills, creeks, or trees an attendee might see, was mostly there when the cemeteries were established.

“You know it's a lot of fun and of course the fall tours are so nice in the cemetery on a beautiful day because the trees are starting to turn color. You get some really stunning imagery in some of the places.”

For more information on Preservation Detroit and its various walking tours, click here.