Visitors Guide to
Bellefontaine Cemetery
4947 West Florissant Road
St. Louis, MO
314-381-0750

Accessible Parking Missouri Historical Site

Bellefontaine Cemetery had its beginnings in 1849 when many prominent citizens of St. Louis recognized that the old cemeteries along Jefferson Avenue would have to be abandoned as they stood in the path of the city’s westward growth. The movement for a new cemetery was led by banker William McPherson and former mayor John F. Darby. They organized a group of notable men, regardless of religious affiliation, and bought 138 acres of land on Bellefontaine Road. The tract was composed principally of the rolling, tree covered hills of the old Hempstead farm. In March of 1849 the group incorporated as the Rural Cemetery Association, changing the name to the Bellefontaine Cemetery Association at the next meeting because the cemetery was on the old military road leading to the former Fort Belle Fontaine. Just months after Bellefontaine Cemetery was created St. Louis experienced the worst cholera epidemic in its history. The epidemic started in May and ended in August and took over 4,500 lives, approximately ten percent of the population after St. Louis.

After the epidemic abated, James B. Yeatman, a member of the Bellefontaine Cemetery Association, went east to hire an landscape architect. Yeatman hired Almerin Hotchkiss, who was working at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Hotchkiss began his work on Bellefontaine Cemetery in the autumn of 1849 and held the position of Superintendent until his death forty-six years later. He was succeeded by his son, Frank, who held the position for an additional twenty years. The peaceful and scenic atmosphere that exists at Bellefontaine Cemetery is largely the result of Almerin Hotchkiss’s efforts. The original 138 acres was expanded to 314 acres by the turn of the century. Bellefontaine Cemetery’s fourteen miles of curved roadways were created to afford beautiful views of the landscape, seasonal foliage, and lakes confined with its borders. The cemetery has one of the finest collections of trees in the St. Louis area.

Bellefontaine Cemetery is the resting place for many prominent men and women who contributed to the westward expansion of the United States as well as civic leaders and other notable personalities. Some of the people are Thomas Hart Benton – Missouri’s first Senator, Samuel Hawken – gunsmith famous for the “Hawken Rifle,”  favored by mountain men and fur trappers, Captain James B. Eads – the engineer who oversaw the construction of the Eads Bridge, the first steel bridge to span the Mississippi, Adolphus Busch - the beer magnate, Sara Teasdale – a Pulitzer Prize winning poet recognized as one of America’s finest women poets, and General William Clark - of the Lewis and Clark Expidition. Bellefontaine Cemetery is considered an outdoor museum of because of its many architecturally significant mausoleums and monuments.

Visiting Bellefontaine Cemetery
     Visiting Hours
         
The cemetery gates are open daily 8 am - 5 pm
         
The office is open Monday - Friday: 8 am - 4 pm.
There is no charge to visit Bellefontaine Cemetery.
Visitors can pick up a self-guided tour book of nearly fifty significant gravesites at the cemetery office during business hours. A white line down the center of the roadways makes taking the tour easy
.


Location: Bellefontaine Cemetery
is located in north St. Louis. From the downtown area, Take I-70 west to Exit 245B (West Florissant Avenue) Proceed one-sixth of a mile north to the cemetery.

Learn more about the St. Louis area.

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