The Tombstone House


The Tombstone House in Petersburg, Virginia, is a great example of waste not, want not………or is it waste not, haunt-not? Only the owners know. Though it may look like a typical stone house, its foundation has macabre origins. The building was constructed in 1934 from the bottom half of government-issued marble tombstones that previously topped the graves of Union soldiers in Poplar Lawn Cemetery. The soldiers all died in the Battle of Petersburg, which lasted for nine months at the end of the Civil War, and were eventually buried at Poplar Lawn Cemetery. After their original wooden grave markers rotted away, the government installed upright marble headstones to take their place. However, during the Great Depression, maintaining the cemetery and the headstones suffered because of a lack of funding. The city decided to cut the tombstones in half and lay the top halves, which were engraved with the soldiers’ details, on the ground so they no longer stood erect, which saved money on mowing and maintenance costs. The bottom halves of 2,200 tombstones were then sold for the princely sum of $45. Their new owner, Oswald Young, used them to build his house, chimney, and walkway. While it must be nice and cool in the summer, it may not be the most inviting door to knock on during Halloween.