The Greek Orthodox Cemetery is located at 5917 Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, MD 21207
A Brief History of the Cathedral’s Greek Orthodox Cemeteries
By Nicholas M. Prevas, Parish Historian
In Baltimore County, at the head of Gwynn Oak Avenue is Woodlawn, where the Woodlawn Cemetery Company was established in 1903. It was here that the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Community of Baltimore began its first cemetery. Four distinct purchases would occur in the North Avon Section of that cemetery between 1912 and 1940.
The first section, known as the Greek Circle, was acquired in January of 1912. It was a 1,000-square-foot parcel of land in the shape of a circle with about 50 gravesites arranged in five rows. The second acquisition, in August of 1916, was called the Greek Plot. This was the largest of the four purchases and accommodated almost 325 burials surrounding the Greek Circle. The third purchase took place during the 1920s–a controversial period in history when the royalist followers of King Constantine I were at odds with the supporters of Greece’s Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos. In fact, in November of 1924, after establishing a separate church, the royalists of Baltimore purchased their own burial ground directly in back of the Greek Plot and called it Holy Trinity.
By 1930, the political fervor had subsided and the entire Greek Orthodox community reunited at Annunciation…then located on Homewood Avenue and Chase Street. The growth of the parish, however, soon mandated the need for additional burial ground. The fourth and final purchase at Woodlawn Cemetery took place in the summer of 1936. It was called the New Greek Plot with nearly 160 gravesites. In total over 600 Orthodox Christians were laid to rest in single interment fashion in the “Greek Section of Woodlawn Cemetery” during the early decades of the 20th century.
Following the parish’s relocation to a larger house of worship at Maryland Avenue and Preston Street in 1937, there was growing popularity for the acquisition of family lots instead of single burial plots used in prior years. Since the Woodlawn Cemetery Company could not accommodate this request, the idea was proposed for the Annunciation community to establish its own cemetery. By 1943, a large tract of land was put up for sale on Windsor Mill Road, adjacent to the Lorraine Park Cemetery, less than a mile from the Woodlawn Cemetery. This generated much interest and the plan began to unfold.
The general assembly of August 1943 directed the parish council to obtain a mortgage in order to secure and develop the cemetery property. A Cemetery Committee was established to work through the details of layout, design, sale of lots, and other business aspects of this ambitious project. Annunciation concluded its negotiations with the property owners at a price of $1,000 an acre and two separate transactions completed the purchase. In October 1943, nearly six acres were acquired; in October 1944, eight more acres were purchased from the same sellers. Annunciation now owned 14 acres for burial grounds that became known as the “Greek Orthodox Cemetery.”
Considering the events of that era–war relief efforts, paying off the purchase and renovation debts of the church building and operating two Greek language schools–the decisive move into a cemetery project was impressive. Very few Orthodox parishes in America can boast of such an endeavor. The first burials took place in the spring of 1944. Since that time, over 2,000 interments have been made. Seven acres are still undeveloped for use by future generations.
Another long-time dream was the establishment of a cemetery chapel. Initial groundbreaking took place in the spring of 1959, but the project was put on hold indefinitely as the parish focused its efforts on the construction of an Education and Social Building during the late 1950s. In later decades, the chapel project was revived. Fund-raising testimonials and other benefits were held and a renewed interest in the chapel project emerged in the late 1970s. A second groundbreaking took place in April 1980. By Memorial Day 1982, the parish saw the opening of the Chapel of the Holy Resurrection within the Greek Orthodox Cemetery.
The Chapel is used for special liturgical, funeral, and memorial services as needed. Flanking the chapel is a mausoleum with crypts for those who desire an alternative to the traditional burial grounds.
2002 marked the 90th Anniversary of the establishment of the first parish cemetery in 1912. To mark the occasion, the Annunciation Cathedral published Gone But Not Forgotten, A Definitive History of the Greek Section at Woodlawn Cemetery. The book was researched and written by Parish Historian Nicholas M. Prevas and dedicated to the memory of his father, Michael N. Prevas, who had assisted him with his research for many years. The 200-page book contains detailed burial listings of over 600 parishioners complete with a cemetery diagram, historical accounts, and photographs of early immigrant families affiliated with the cemetery.
Gone But Not Forgotten is available at the Cathedral Office, Father Dean Moralis Bookstore, or at the Office of the Woodlawn Cemetery. The price is $25.00 and all proceeds from sales go toward the restoration and maintenance of this historic first Orthodox burial ground of the Greek community. For further details, contact the Cathedral office at 410.727.1831