1300 Whaley Street
Beth Shalom Cemetery
Chartered on April 26, 1883 by the Hebrew Cemetery Society of Columbia, the “free cemetery or burial ground for Hebrews” was one of the earliest of its kind in America. Its founding officers were Philip Epstein (president), Barrett Visanska (vice-president) and William Robinson (treasurer). The cemetery’s original property, purchased on March 12, 1883 from Eliza S. Bailey, occupied an entire city block, bounded by Indigo (Whaley), Lower (Heyward), Marion and Sumter streets. The cemetery’s oldest extant marker designates the burial of Arthur Benedict of Abbeville.
In 1896, the society sold 3 1/2 acres of the original track to W. B. S. Whaley for $900, keeping only 1/2 acre for use as a cemetery. Whaley used his newly acquired land to build housing for employees of Richland Cotton Mills.
In 1911, the House of Peace (Beth Shalom) Synagogue assumed management of the cemetery, and over time, it became recognized as a burial ground primarily for the synagogue’s members. House of Peace member Gus Oppenheimer was the cemetery’s first caretaker, a position he held from 1934 until 1976. Due to a lack of space, land was purchased in Arcadia Lakes for the establishment of a new cemetery in 1995.
The University of South Carolina acquired the land surrounding the cemetery in 1969, and the Eugene E. Stone III Memorial Stadium was built in 1996. This soccer stadium is known as “The Graveyard” due to its proximity to the cemetery.
South Carolina Historical Marker
On January 15, 2017, the Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative unveiled a South Carolina Historical Marker at the cemetery. Following the dedication, Aaron Small and Dr. Jonathan Leader led a tour of the cemetery.