Not Weird To Some: Full Graveyard For Sale By U.S. Treasury

Maryam Louise

Have you always wanted to own a graveyard where you could raise your children? Stay tuned, because we have a deal for you! In general, most news headlines about a full graveyard center around recaps of Walking Dead, like the one where EP believes Rick and Michonne have a connection. However, the U.S. Department of the Treasury evidently thinks that a mostly-full graveyard is hot property -- and this is not the first full graveyard for sale that has popped up on the real estate market over the past five years.

The IRS-seized property that the U.S. Treasury Department recently listed is for a graveyard in Winfield, West Virginia, at 5190 State Route 34. If you act quickly, you can put in a bid for the auction being held on February 24. The lowest price you can bid on the graveyard is $25,000. But is owning a graveyard that appears to be mostly full worth it?

Strangely, putting a full or mostly-occupied graveyard up for sale is not that uncommon. For example, in 2014, the Montgomery News reported that a local church was proud to sell a graveyard that still had some room for occupants.

While many people that own graveyards are currently accepting occupants in a for-profit scenario, it appears that some prefer owning a full graveyard that will not produce profits -- and buy a graveyard solely for what could be perceived as therapeutic or religious reasons. For instance, a graveyard owner can practice spiritual duties such as honoring the dead by doing extensive groundskeeping.

For example, in 2011, the Times Free Press reported that a local Johnson City, Tennessee, man was putting up a beloved, but full, graveyard for sale. The article noted that Tim McKinney had put a significant amount of work into the 1870 graveyard that was overgrown and forgotten before his family took charge. McKinney stated that his reason for owning and tending to this property, despite that it was mostly full, was as follows.

"It's an eight-and-a-half acre cemetery that is full of history. It's one of the biggest landmarks in Johnson City."

Up to 50 people are buried in the centuries-old graveyard, and the developers did not want them to be forgotten. According to the Daily Mail U.K., "The tombstones will be laid flat face up so the engraved names can still be seen. They will be covered by a special transparent layer to preserve them -- but the new owner's cars can drive over them."

But is it easy to sell a graveyard? The New York Times reported in 2009 that the Canarsie Cemetery in Brooklyn had been up for sale since 1982. When interviewing Richard Fishman, the Director of New York State's Division of Cemeteries, he said, "The chances of a new cemetery in New York City is nil. There is no land. There is room enough for about 4,000 additional graves in Canarsie. And in a city of 8.4 million people, many of whom die each year. These four and a half acres are a lot."

If you feel creeped out and superstitious about owning your own graveyard, perhaps you are not alone. Despite the profitability of the Brooklyn graveyard real estate market, Fishman noted that sales for graveyards were practically non-existent. Fishman stated, "There are about 6,000 cemeteries across New York State, and it is very infrequent to see one changing ownership, especially for money."

With all of this in mind, doesn't it make you curious about who is going to end up buying this graveyard in Winfield, West Virginia? Secondly, what type of housewarming gift do you get for a new graveyard owner?

[All images from the referenced links. Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.]