Elmwood Cemetery was established in 1853 to ease the overcrowded conditions in the less than 30-year old Cedar Grove Cemetery, which lay across Smith's Creek from the 50-acre parcel that would become Elmwood. The two cemeteries were connected by a bridge until the creek and nearby marshes were eventually filled in.
Elmwood's romantic landscaping and elaborate monuments and statuary are characteristic of the Victorian era. Of note is the Recording Angel watching over Euphania Couper's grave, designed and executed by her internationally acclaimed sculptor son William Couper, a Norfolk native.
John Core's ornate mausoleum is an architectural masterpiece. Core left detailed instructions in his 1910 will, designating $100,000 for a mausoleum and $5,000 to employ "two of the best lawyers" to defend the will against challengers. The bronze sculptures flanking the mausoleum's entrance are the work of New York sculptor Edward Field Sanford.
Elmwood's thoroughfares, originally paved with oyster shells, form a cross. Grassy carriage paths laid out in a grid pattern enable families to drive directly to their plots to tend them.