After 5 years of driving past this graveyard on Cleveland Avenue, and many more years of eyeing it from I-75, I finally stopped to visit the Gilbert Memorial Cemetery. Maybe I put it off so long because I always imagined visiting the plot would require parking in the emergency lane and darting across a few lanes of highway traffic. Actually, you can park at Krystal, cross the exit ramp at a crosswalk, and enter through a circle of mature crepe myrtles. Inside, there’s a white marble obelisk that you would never notice from the interstate. This is a popular corner for prostitutes and other street professionals, a few of whom shared my fascination with the memorial.
It’s a “memorial cemetery,” meaning that the graves were displaced and later marked in the perfect circle of grass created by the southbound entrance ramp. The obelisk marks the site of the original 1861 burial plot, but the graves were “destroyed by unknown persons in the late 1950’s.” Some time later, “concerned local residents and local clergy” rallied the Federal Highway Administration, Fulton County, and Georgia DOT to recognize the cemetery with a permanent monument. It's difficult to think that the memorials themselves needed a memorial. They placed the state historic marker in 1983.