Places We Protect

Mount Olivet Cemetery

A man sits on a high-backed wooden bench reading a book in a green space encircled by trees.
Sacred Places A man sits and enjoys a new memorial greenspace at Mt. Olivet cemetery following the June 8, 2019 dedication ceremony. © Matt Kane / TNC

Explore an historic cemetery that has been reimagined as an urban arboretum, green space and demonstration site for many important conservation practices.



Historic Mount Olivet Cemetery welcomes visitors to respectfully enjoy its grounds, its history and its myriad conservation projects, many of which include TNC as a partner.

The 88-acre cemetery is located on an historic hill overlooking the monuments of the nation's capital in the District of Columbia. Operated by the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, it is the largest Catholic burial ground in the city, and it was the first cemetery in the city to be racially integrated.

Mount Olivet Cemetery is the final resting place of many notable—and in some cases, notorious—individuals, including politicians, former D.C. mayors, professional athletes, Medal of Honor recipients, journalists, enslaved people, civil rights activists and more. It is also home to the many hardworking early immigrants who helped build Washington, D.C. into the vibrant urban center it is today.



Dogs are not allowed at Mount Olivet Preserve.


March 16 to November 2, 7:30 am to 7:00 pm. November 3 to March 15, 7:30 am to 5:00 pm


Tree plantings, green stormwater infrastructure, commemorative garden, pollinator gardens, history, adjacent to U.S. National Arboretum. The cemetery also has historically and artistically significant memorials and funerary art that help us to remember each of the people buried here, noting that each one of them had a story that impacted history in some way.


88 acres

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  • Mount Olivet Cemetery is a sacred burial ground and visitors should behave accordingly. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the cemetery to explore its rich history and myriad conservation projects; however, visitors are encouraged to follow the following guidelines out of respect for both the living and the dead:

    • Read the rules at the entrance.
    • Respect the hours of operation.
    • Yield respectfully to funeral processions.
    • Be respectful of active services and mourners.
    • Drive slowly (15 mph maximum). Some roads are narrow, especially around the fragile stormwater bioretention projects.
    • Do not drive or park on the grass.
    • Do not allow dogs or other pets on the grounds.
    • Be careful walking on the grass. The terrain may be uneven.
    • Use caution around monuments, especially older ones.
    • Keep your children with you at all times.
    • Know that we are not responsible for lost or stolen items.
    • Observe the cemetery’s floral policies.
    • Bike or walk only on the roadways.
    • Leave no trace.
    • Speak softly and politely.
  • Visitors are welcome to park outside the main entrance gate in the small parking lot along Bladensburg Road. The cemetery’s hills and vistas make walking pleasurable.

    Parking is also available inside the cemetery along the roads, but please allow enough room for other cars to pass. We request that you do not park on the grass.

    Bikes should not be chained to the fences or poles in the cemetery.

    Public Visiting Hours

    March 16 to November 2
    7:30 am to 7:00 pm

    November 3 to March 15
    7:30 am to 5:00 pm


    1300 Bladensburg Road, N.E.
    Washington, D.C. 20002

Planning for the Future: A Green Partnership

A partnership between Mount Olivet Cemetery, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and other local non-profits began in 2017 when TNC met with Mount Olivet to discuss the cemetery’s vision for the future of its grounds.

It was a time when multiple priorities were coming into focus.

Age and lack of additional burial space to sell prompted Mount Olivet to consider ways to remain relevant for both the living and the dead. Then, in 2015, Pope Francis issued his second encyclical, Laudato Si (On care for our common home), calling all people of the world to take "swift and unified global action" to protect our environment. Around the same time, fees to fund a city project to significantly reduce the discharge of sewage and stormwater runoff into local rivers were rising dramatically, driving the cemetery’s water bill to unmanageable levels.

The timing for a relationship between Mount Olivet and TNC could not have been better.

A wide lined channel intercut at spaced intervals with rock baffels provide the starting point for what will become part of a green infrastructure stormater project.
Mount Olivet Construction in progress during a first-of-its-kind stormwater retention project at Washington, DC's historic Mount Olivet cemetery. © Matt Kane / TNC

A partnership would help the cemetery protect our local rivers and would provide accessible green space for the local community, while continuing to be the quiet sanctuary that allows families with loved ones buried there to visit, pray and reflect.

The plans that emerged would transform the cemetery into an urban arboretum, green space and demonstration site for many important conservation practices. First, TNC led a project to replace more than 44,000 square feet of impervious surface with rain gardens, pollinator gardens and other forms of green infrastructure that reduce the cemetery’s water bill, improve water quality for the nearby Anacostia River and generate stormwater retention credits that TNC sells on the D.C. Stormwater Credit Trading market. Profits are reinvested into conservation.

A large granite memorial with an inset brass plaque sits in an open green space. A cluster of pink flowers bloom at the monument's base.
Honoring the Past A plaque memorializes unknown and enslaved people buried at Washington, DC's historic Mount Olivet Cemetery. © Matt Kane / TNC

Mount Olivet Cemetery has also partnered with Casey Trees to plant approximately 1,000 trees and shrubs on and around the cemetery grounds—several hundred of which are part of TNC’s green stormwater infrastructure projects. Mount Olivet is in the process of seeking certification by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program as a Level 1 arboretum.

Located directly across the street from the 451-acre U.S. National Arboretum, Mount Olivet’s 88 acres help significantly expand the urban forest created between the two properties.

TNC also connected Mount Olivet with another non-profit partner, Nature Sacred, to install a community-designed prayer garden and reflection space commemorating a section of the cemetery that was once an unmemorialized burial ground for poor and marginalized people, including enslaved and formerly enslaved people.

Explore Nature

Need more nature? Visit some of TNC's other preserves.

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The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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