Oakland Cemetery bell tower rehabilitated, preserving an Atlanta gem

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 1:00 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Sometimes, to create a brighter future, we have to take a look at our past.

Bruce Barfield is the great-great-grandson of the sexton, the person who oversaw operations at Oakland Cemetery.

“I think my great-great-grandfather would be extremely proud of what’s going on right now,” said Barfield.

He is proud of a partnership between the city and organizations like the Imlay Foundation to rehabilitate the bell tower on-site, which was built in 1889.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the building plays a huge role in maintaining the presentation of the cemetery, which already draws tourists for weddings and other events.

“People that are coming will experience seeing the past but also be able to look out onto the present and future with the downtown skyline,” said Dickens.

Oakland is the resting place for many notable people in the Atlanta area. It also has a rich history that city leaders say should be shared.

“A site that doesn’t shy away from a very complicated history but instead embraces that and moves forward. I think this entity is a leading example of what that should look like,” said Liliana Bakhbtiari, Atlanta City Council District 5.

With the rehab now finished, visitors can enjoy the new space.

Preserving and rehabilitating the tower was top of mind for city leaders because acknowledging the past can open up doors to a prosperous future.