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‘It’s just a shame:’ Abandoned cemetery in southeast Atlanta draws complaints from residents

ATLANTA — Crumbling tombstones and collapsing gravesites in a now overgrown cemetery have caught the attention of neighbors and visitors.

Many gravesites in the woods at the rear of the cemetery are in disrepair after decades of neglect. Gravesites are collapsing, and a skull can even be seen in the crumbled crypt of one site.

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Many headstones have the names of WWII veterans.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan interviewed a man on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. who reached out to Channel 2 Action News after riding a bike with his friend who lives in the area and spotting the abandoned cemetery.

“I walked over and looked into the hole and sure enough there was a skull. There’s just row after row of sunken graves. Some have partial headstones,” said visitor Gavin Holmes.

The wooded cemetery site is located at the rear of the Chestnut Hill Cemetery on Moreland Avenue in Southeast Atlanta. South-View Cemetery Association owns the property.

The organization’s president told Channel 2 Action News that many years ago, Fulton County agreed to designate the area a “public ground” thereby making affordable burial plots available for indigent families that couldn’t afford a perpetual care burial ground. 

With that designation, she said the organization is not required to provide maintenance or groundskeeping in that area of the cemetery.

Channel 2 Action News reached out to the State Board of Cemeteries under the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. A representative referred Channel 2′s Tom Regan to the Georgia Department of Consumer Affairs for comment.

A response is pending.

After Holmes discovered the deteriorating cemetery, he estimates there are hundreds of gravesites, some are the final resting places of military veterans.

“Some of them go back to the twenties and thirties and older. But we’ve definitely seen some late-nineties headstones. We just noticed more and more graves, kind of toppled and buried. People dumped trash on them,” said Holmes.

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The cemetery says the area is off-limits to the general public and “no trespassing” signs are posted.

Channel 2 Action News did not see any signs when visiting the area. Deer hunting stands could also be seen near gravesites.

“It’s just a shame, a real shame. It’s disrespectful for the families,” said Holmes.

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