Every town has a local legend that spans generations. But Iowa City‘s Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery has inspired folklore like no other.
Ever since it was erected in 1918, the eight and a half foot tall statue has been a source of mystery and site of much local lore. The statue was originally commissioned by Teresa Dolezal Feldevert, a Bohemian immigrant who moved to Iowa with her young son, Eddie.
Sadly, Eddie died of meningitis at the age of 18. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in 1891 with a tree stump monument as his gravestone. Then in 1911, Teresa’s husband, Nicholas Feldevert passed away. So, Teresa hired Bohemian artist Mario Korbel to create the slightly ominous marker for the graves of her husband and son.
At this point, local legend and collective memory begins to differ slightly. Some long-time Iowa City residents claimed the statue was erected upon its arrival. However, others argue that it was not put in place until 1918. The delay is claimed to be the result of a lawsuit against Teresa by the artist, who had not received his $5,000 compensation for the statue.
When the statue was finally installed, Eddie’s grave and original monument along with Nicholas’ ashes were moved beneath the black angel. On November 18, 1924 Teresa herself passed away. She was also laid to rest beneath the statue, though her date of death was never added to the statue’s inscription.
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The Lore of the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery
There are lots of reasons that the Black Angel is often considered one of the spookiest spots in Iowa.
The dark color of the statue is often attributed to mystical properties. But the most logical explanation is a scientific one. Over time, the originally bronze statue oxidized, which gave it a murky black patina. However, local legend says that with every passing Halloween the statue turns one shade darker for all the people the Black Angel has killed.
Local lore is filled with other myths surrounding the angel as well. There’s the belief that anyone kissed in front of the angel at midnight on Halloween will die within seven years. And a legend that claims anyone who kisses the angel will die instantly. Some Iowa City independent filmmakers even set out to make a Blair Witch-style file about the Black Angel. Though the project doesn’t seem to have been completed.
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Plan Your Visit to Oakland Cemetery
A trip to the infamous Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery is worth the trip, especially for fans of the occult. Whether you’re visiting during the Halloween season or not, this storied grave in one of Iowa City’s oldest cemeteries has an eerie draw.
To easily access the Black Angel, you’ll want to enter Oakland Cemetery from Brown Street. As you enter the cemetery, follow the road toward the right. The statue will be straight back in Lot 1, Block 24.
Oakland Cemetery, 1000 Brown Street in Iowa City, Iowa
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