Arlington Memorial Gardens

Arlington Memorial Gardens

2145 Compton Road Cincinnati, Ohio 45231

Arlington Memorial Gardens website
Arlington Memorial Gardens (Find A Grave) webpage

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Roadside Birding

Tips for Birding

Drive and park along the side of the roadways in the cemetery. It is fairly quiet most days but tends to have more traffic on the weekends when a majority of the funerals and processions take place. There is one main entrance off Compton Road and one secondary entrance through the neighboring subdivision. The back portion of the property borders Ronald Reagan Highway and there is construction to expand the property back there.

Birds of Interest

There is a small pond that has Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows during the warm seasons, common waterfowl and herons all year long, as well as frequent Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawk, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Red-headed Woodpecker and Merlin have been reported here but are less frequently seen. There is one Red-tailed Hawk in particular that is banded but we have yet to be able to photograph the bands well enough to read. Raptors have been found throughout the entire property on a variety of trees and perches. There does not seem to be much consistency other than the Red-tailed Hawk who has been seen most weekdays. There are berry trees near the Columbarium (by the pond) where Robins and Cedar Waxwings get their fill and plenty of Mockingbirds to chase everyone away. There is a good chance to spot Warblers in the spring. The pond could easily attract migrating waterfowl and smaller-bodied herons.

About this Location

In 1804, Abner Johnson’s young son, twenty-three-year-old Cary, came west over the mountains on horseback to settle the land and establish the Johnson farm. Upon arriving, Cary built a log cabin (about 100 yards northwest of the present Administrative Center) that stood until 1880. In 1807, Cary was joined by his brothers Andrew and Samuel, and all three sons were deeded property by their father, Abner, who migrated to the area in 1813.

After marrying Rachel Jessup in 1805, Cary Johnson, who was a trained carpenter, began building a brick home. Native stone was used to form the basement walls and clay, excavated from the property was formed into bricks, fired on site, and laid up in several courses to build the first and second-floor walls. The mortar used between the bricks was made of a mixture of sand and lime while wood harvested from the property was used to build the federal-style “homestead.” The homestead remained in the Johnson family into the early 1900s. Cary’s son, Benson, who lived in the homestead his entire life, inherited the property upon his father’s death in 1866 and he and his wife, Sarah, farmed the 236 acres of land that had been cleared from the wilderness.

Following the death of Benson and Sarah, a group of enterprising businessmen purchased the property and developed what came to be known as Johnson’s Picnic Grove. This was an active recreational area, especially on Sunday afternoons. A large dance hall was built as well as concession stands. Ball games were played and horseback riding and other activities were available for the locals to enjoy.

In the early 20th century, memorial parks were springing up throughout the country. Rather than upright monuments, central features were located in the center of each “garden” and flush bronze memorials were used to mark the graves. The cemetery, rather than appearing as a place of death, took on the uncluttered appearance of a place of life. The Picnic Grove, with its abundance of majestic hardwoods and gently rolling terrain, was determined to be a naturally accommodating location for a memorial park and in 1934, Arlington was established. The Johnson homestead, which still stands today, served as the office and doubled as the residence for the cemetery superintendent.

Today, Arlington encompasses 165 acres with all but 30 developed. The grounds are divided into 29 individually unique gardens featuring themes of Christianity, patriotism, and world peace. Incorporated into each garden are inspiring sculpted memorials by renowned artists Dominic Zappia and Aldo Buttini executed in marble or granite symbolizing Arlington’s permanent and enduring beauty and a mausoleum complex is a fixture on the south side of Arlington Lake.

Roadside accessible.

No restroom facilities.

Content from Arlington Memorial Gardens website and Megan Mahon