St Louis Cemetery Buried in History   

Probably not your first thought when planning a vacation location, but Bellefontaine Cemetery in 
Saint Louis is worth a stop while you are in town. Travelers interested in genealogy and history can spend hours at this beautifully landscaped historic site.

Tate Mausoleum

Tate Mausoleum - Egyptian-style mausoleum built in 1907 by Frank N. Tate, who at the time controlled most of the theater property in St. Louis. photo JLH

One of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country, Bellefontaine Cemetery is 314 acres that looks like a park. Established in 1849, Bellefontaine Cemetery has a renowned collection of art and architecture in a garden-like setting. 87,000 people rest in peace and beauty here.

Among the notable residents are three governors of Missouri, four mayors of St Louis, the highest ranking Confederate General, one member of President Lincoln’s cabinet and three Confederate congressmen.

On the rolling hills are 115 officers from the Civil War. Next to them lie civilians who took a leading role in this great conflict. Belfontaine honors the Union and Confederate soldiers who fought in this nations’ great battles. More Civil War Medal of Honor winners are buried here than at any other cemetery in St Louis.

Wainwright Tomb

Wainwright Tomb - Considered the Taj Mahal of St. Louis and in 1970 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. photo Jeffrey Lee Hobson

Architecture – of the buildings, mausoleums, and larger monuments at Bellefontaine display every influence and style. From Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Egyptian, and modern architecture. A wonderful site to study Western architecture. Bellefontaine Cemetery is the legacy of Almerin Hotchkiss, one of the country’s most noted 19th century landscape architects.

Wildlife in Bellefontaine – Because of its location near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, Bellefontaine is on the flyway for water fowl. Visitors can spot local wildlife, including red fox, red tail hawk, wild turkeys, wood ducks and ducklings, and many migratory birds.

Genealogical Research – Bellefontaine Cemetery will check if an individual is buried there, and if so, will provide you with the burial date, no charge. Contact the office to place your request. Further research requires a fee of $15 per individual.

Genealogy and history buffs will appreciate the book Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and Suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery, by Carol Ferring Shepley, tells the stories of some of the 87,000 people who are buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Memorial Day – The national cemetery decorates all graves before Memorial Day with small American flags. Seeing the thousands of flags is awe inspiring. Bring your camera. The miles of perfectly spaced Flags flowing over the rolling landscape are removed immediately after Memorial Day.


The modest stone of poet Sara Teasdale is easily found with a map from the cemetery office. photo: PBH

Other notables at the cemetery include beer baron Adolphus Busch 1839-1913, Sara Teasdale 1884-1933, winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Virginia Minor 1824-1894, early supporter and leader of women’s suffrage movement in Missouri; and Captain William Clark of the Lewis & Clark expedition who later became the Indian Agent for Missouri Territory 1770-1838.

Hours, Directions, and Visitor Etiquette – Bellefontaine Cemetery is a sacred place. Visitors are asked to behave in a quiet and reverent manner. For more information on visitor etiquette or click for tours and speakers.

Directions – From I-70, take Exit 245B – West Florissant Avenue. Proceed northwest on West Florissant for 0.7 miles to the cemetery’s main entrance. It is on the right, just after Shreve and before Kingshighway.

Details – 4947 W Florissant Ave, 
Saint Louis MO 63115, phone 314-381-0750. Open everyday of the year, including weekends and holidays, visiting hours are 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. The office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or by appointment.

Featured photo:  Busch Mausoleum – Gothic mausoleum, constructed in 1915, has walls made of unpolished red Missouri granite. Busch, born in 1839 in Germany, was co-founder of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. He joined the business after marrying Eberhard Anheuser’s daughter Lilly, who is also laid to rest in the mausoleum. photo: JLH

Read more Striped Pot: Garanite Carvers of Hope by Gail Hunter about Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont.

Get more information on St. Louis by clicking on Explore St louis or by calling, toll-free, 1-800-916-0040.

Bellefontaine Cemetery Entrance

Bellefontaine Cemetery Entrance photo: Bellefontaine Cemetery Association


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.