Beginning in the 1830's, American urban planners began to establish rural cemeteries on the outskirts of cities as a way to address the growing issues of overcrowding, public health risks and a lack of leisure space. Historic Woodlawn Cemetery, which was founded in 1876, consisted of 160 acres — one-half mile square — and represented the flourishing of the “rural cemetery movement” in Toledo.
The designers of Woodlawn Cemetery followed the “landscape lawn plan,” which emphasized nature and art. This type of plan included winding paths that later became roads, lakes, gently undulating hills, a variety of trees, and monuments noted for their originality. The beautiful Conservatory Chapel, built in 1883, was the first building on the property.
Throughout the past and continuing into the twenty-first century, the primary objective of the trustees of Historic Woodlawn Cemetery has been to keep the cemetery on a solid financial footing while preserving and enhancing its natural beauty and historical significance. This emphasis led to the cemetery being listed as a National Historic Site in 1998.