1300 Court St, Houston, TX 77007
Olivewood Cemetery is filled with many rich, diverse cultural and religious traditions and is considered the final resting place of some of Houston’s prominent African Americans. The cemetery was established by Fourth Ward residents in the late 1800s as a burial ground within the Houston city limits for former slaves and their descendents.
The Olivewood Cemetery demonstrates a variety of West African spiritual traditions and symbolism. Some of these traditions include backwards or inverted orientations of letters carved on the tombstone, or broken dishes and jars placed on the tomb to deter spirits from returning to their previous homestead, or upright pipes and seashells as a means to connect the world of the living with the world of the dead.
Olivewood Cemetery is threatened by erosion, vandalism, and rapid plant growth. Water runoff from neighboring commercial establishments has resulted in flooding and the loss of grave sites. Tombstones have been broken and are in need of repair. The cemetery’s proximity to the bayou has caused rapid plant growth that damages and covers the tombstones and gravesites.
There are still living descendents that are connected to those buried at the Olivewood Cemetery. These people and others of the community volunteer their time and energy into the preservation of this site. Unfortunately, due to the current condition of the site, the lack of funding, and the rapid rate of erosion, the site is endangered.
Visit Olivewood Cemetery’s Facebook page.