Mount Zion Cemetery's history and that of the generations of African Americans, both free and enslaved, interred therein highlight life and evolving free African American culture in the District of Columbia from the earliest days of the city. The Cemetery is one of the few remaining physical reminders of the significant contributions of black people to the development of Georgetown.
Mount Zion Cemetery occupies lots 802 and 803 in the northeastern section of the Georgetown Historic District. The tract is polygonal in shape, approximately three acres in extent. It is divided almost equally on a north-south axis. The Female Union Band Society Graveyard (lot 802) is to the east; the old Methodist Episcopal Burying Ground (lot 803), to the west. Though now abandoned, the old road bed, surfaced with wash gravel, still survives.
The Female Union Band Society Graveyard is a tangible reminder of a significant early commercial venture organized and successfully carried on by women. Although Mount Zion Cemetery is located within the boundaries of the Georgetown Historic District, its historical significance is sufficiently different from the qualities which qualified the Georgetown Historic District for the National Register to merit individual registration. Mount Zion Cemetery is composed of two separate adjacent cemeteries- the old Methodist Burying Ground and the Female Union Band Society Graveyard which almost equally occupy an approximately three acre wooded site overlooking Rock Creek Park. The land for the former was purchased in 1809; for the latter, in 1842. No fence separates the two properties and over the years they have come to be known in the community simply as the Mount Zion Cemetery.
There are few large monuments in Mount Zion Cemetery. Most headstones are simple and modest. The earliest graves, located in the old Methodist Burying Ground-section near Mill Road, date from the early years of the cemetery. Marble grave covers seal brick underground vaults. There are a few fenced family plots of later origin.
DC designation: April 29, 1975
National Register listing: August 6, 1975