A Historical Establishment Among Cemeteries in Alexandria, VA
Congressional Cemetery is an interdenominational burial ground that accommodates several types of interments, from eco-friendly green burials and inurnments to traditional casket burials in Alexandria, VA and the nearby areas. For more than 200 years, we have been the first truly national burial ground as Congress bought sites, buried noted civil servants, and funded the infrastructure. We are the only D.C. cemetery that allows green burial options. Veterans from every American war can be found here. We promote innovative and sustainable practices, such as beekeeping, grazing goats, and dog-walking program. Over 1,000 volunteers each year help maintain the cemetery ground. We encourage you to visit our cemetery or give us a call at 202-543-0539 for more information.
In the early 1800s, Congressional Cemetery was first established to serve the east end of the recently formed Federal District of Washington. Since many residents of that area also belonged to the Christ Church, Washington Parish, Vestry, once the land was debt-free, it was donated to that entity. Still officially owned by this church, a long-term lease is in place, and a non-profit organization now runs the cemetery. It is truly unique among cemeteries in Alexandria, VA, and the surrounding areas.
The cemetery was officially named Washington Parish Burial Ground, but it became known as the Congressional Cemetery early in its history. That was owing to the distinction that made it officially a national cemetery and the subsequent internment and memorialization of prominent politicians and public servants who had died.
The many decades and centuries had taken a toll on the establishment. The neglect, vandalism, and disrepair came to a head in 1997 when the burial ground was listed officially amongst the most endangered historic sites. Concerned local citizens rallied and remedied the situation. The cemetery is now considered active, with new burials and plot purchases regularly occurring again. This beautiful establishment is officially recognized as a flourishing National Historic Landmark today.
“I know of no other cemetery in this country superior to it in beauty of site.”
– George Watterson, 1842 –
Burial Selections for Humans and Animals at Cemeteries in Alexandria, VA
Our cemetery is unique by offering several types of interment and entombment solutions. As laid out in the original city plans for burial accommodations, the standard plots measure 3 feet by 8 feet. Depending on the depth, two complete remains or up to 8 cremation urns can be buried in one traditional site. In addition, all the historical sections have additional burial sites for humans available.
Traditional Burial: Fees for traditional burial are assessed according to specific needs such as grave depth and if you desire to have an optional grave liner. The installation of a memorial monument is also not required but is permitted within specific generous guidelines. For example, the memorial must all be contained within the confines of the plot space surface dimension.
Green Burial: Recognized by the Green Burial Council, ecologically friendly burial practices can be fully supported at Congressional Cemetery. There is no requirement for embalming or grave lining vaults. The body should be contained in a readily biodegradable casing such as a wicker or unadulterated pine casket. A compostable burial shroud is also acceptable.
In-Ground Inurnment: The burial of cremated remains is an excellent disposition option for many families seeking a more permanent place of memorial for their loved ones. The ashes will need to be contained in a burial urn, box, or shroud. No liner is required but can be installed as an outer burial container if desired.
Cremation Bench Sites: The Congressional Cemetery offers sites where a cremation bench can be installed in your loved one’s memory. The bench itself is designed to receive the deceased’s inurned or shrouded ashen remains. You could think of the bench as an outer burial container that acts as a memorial monument.
Columbarium Niches: We are also pleased to offer an additional above-ground burial solution for cremated bodies within our columbarium niches. These structures are designed with individualized, secure spaces for the burial of individual cremains.
Congressional Cemetery now has a segment of the cemetery that provides space for pet burial. This “Kingdom of Animals” offers a dignified and accessible place to lay your furry friends to rest. The section is separated by fencing from the human internment areas within the establishment. After many years of research, budgeting, and planning, this site was formed. The community has well-received it as something needed for cemeteries in Alexandria, VA, and the surrounding areas.
Unique Funding Solutions, Events, and Venue Options
As part of the ongoing caretaking need to beautify and maintain this beloved site, much of our funding comes from our K9 memberships. Membership is annually renewed. The benefit of this membership is access to walk your dog off-leash on our 35+ acre establishment. We also rely on the dogs as unofficial watch guards. Would-be vandals and vagrants tend to shy away from the presence of these beloved animals.
Other funding solutions come through our unique events, such as our summer Cinematery Movie Nights, Plot Twist Yoga, and tours that highlight the rich historical record of the burial park. Event tickets are required for official times or participating in any publicly held offerings like those just mentioned. Private event rentals are possible; please reach out to discuss your needs.
Make Plans for a Visit to this Beloved Sacred Establishment
The uniquely designed and situated Congressional Cemetery is a jewel amongst cemeteries in Alexandria, VA. Seasonal guided and self-guided walking tours are available. The burial park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The soothing grounds are well maintained, and each visit will yield new insight and reflection. Please call (202) 543-0539 to make inquiries or schedule an appointment for pre-planning needs. We are located for your convenience at 1801 E St SE, Washington, DC 20003.
Burial & Cemeteries FAQs
- What is in-ground burial?
- In-ground burial is one of the most common interment options. The body is placed in a casket and buried in the ground. The casket is usually made of wood, metal, or fiberglass. A concrete vault or liner may be used to prevent the ground from collapsing and to help support the weight of the earth above the casket.
- What is cemetery sponsorship?
- Cemetery sponsorship is a way for individuals or organizations to support the upkeep and maintenance of a cemetery. This can be done through financial contributions, in-kind donations, or volunteer work. Cemetery sponsorships can be used to fund projects like groundskeeping, headstone restoration, or general maintenance.
- What are the duties of a cemetery volunteer?
- The duties of a cemetery volunteer vary depending on the needs of the particular cemetery but may include such tasks as mowing and trimming grass, cleaning headstones, and assisting with funerals and burials. Learn more how to become a volunteer.