Frequently Asked Questions

We welcome questions about this exciting project. One of the many benefits of this website is that we are able to continually provide information, including answers to frequently asked questions. Thank you for your interest, and your questions.

    Q. When was Greenwood Cemetery established?
    A. December 9, 1869, it was formed as Greenwood Cemetery Company.
    Q. What will the benefit of the revitalization be to families of loved ones buried in the cemetery?
    A. Many cannot access burials presently due to unsafe conditions. Plans call for enhanced ingress and egress to the grounds to greatly improve accessibility to burials.
    Q. What about security?
    A. The plans call for greatly enhanced security, including installation of new lighting and restoring the perimeter fencing.
    Q. Do the owners intend to try and build a crematorium on the property after it has been revitalized?
    A. Absolutely not.
    Q. Are there plans to relocate any of the burials?
    A. If and when there is expansion of the medical center onto any part of the cemetery grounds, that expansion would have to be approved by various local agencies, from planning to zoning. Burials would be relocated only if it were absolutely necessary and if the relocation would enhance visitor access. In any event, such action would require approval by the Orphans Court of Philadelphia.
    Q. How can I get involved to help the project?
    A. We encourage volunteer participation. Contact us through this website, by emailing the property manager, Joe Havener, or by contacting us through Friends of Greenwood.
    Q. When did the Knights of Pythias get involved?
    A. Records indicate the name was changed in 1870 to Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company of Philadelphia.
    Q. Who were the owners?
    A. Two years after the name change – in 1872 – 15,000 shares of stock in the company were issued.
    Q. Who currently owns the cemetery?
    A. In 2008 a new company, Greenwood Holdings, LLC, was formed and it purchased the majority shareholding interest in the cemetery from the Hancock family (which no longer has any connection with the cemetery). Greenwood Holdings is affiliated with the property management firm that owns the property on which the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Eastern Regional Medical Center is located. The non-profit organization, Friends of Greenwood, which was the minority shareholder in the Hancock-controlled Willow Ridge, Inc., continues to serve as the minority shareholder.
    Q. What are the hours of operation?
    A. The cemetery is open for visitation from dawn to dusk, but currently there is no office operating on site. For information, including “look-up” requests, please contact
    Q. How many burial sites are there?
    A. As part of the revitalization project, there has been extensive surveying of the burials, comparing written records with onsite inspection using sophisticated, non-invasive technology. It appears that may be as many as 20,000 burials.
    Q. Will burial lots soon be available for sale?
    A. Not immediately, though we expect that to be the case once it has been sufficiently upgraded.
    Q. Is Dr. Benjamin Rush buried there?
    A. No, but records indicate Dr. Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned the property in the late 1700s.
    Q. What is to come of the Rush House through the revitalization?
    A. The first of order of business is to stabilize the structure and safely preserve and enhance the dwelling. There are no plans at this time to have it occupied as a residence but various adaptive uses will be considered.