The Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery – Iowa City, Iowa - Atlas Obscura
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Iowa City, Iowa

The Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery

A mysteriously dark cemetery monument fuels stories and legends galore. 

The golden towering figure was built as a beautiful yet mournful burial monument for the resting place of the Feldevert family, and erected in a quiet Iowa City cemetery in 1912.

At 8 1/2 ft. tall, the broad-winged angelic statue stands out amongst rows of simple gravestones, and enjoys very large recognition in the area—not for its finely-crafted sorrowful visage, but for its insistence on appearing eerily black. Regardless of being a simple case of bronze oxidizing, the effect is pretty creepy, and one can’t be blamed for letting their imagination off the leash a little. The angel was designed by artist Mario Korbel, and stands watch over Theresa and Nicholas Feldevert, as well as Theresa’s son from her first marriage, Edward Dolezal. Over the years, the angel turned darker and darker, a greenish black patina effect that made the statue creepier and creepier.

Soon, the angel attracted the attention of ghost seekers and kids looking for a cheap thrill. Legends and lore started popping up everywhere—touch or kiss the statue and you’ll be struck dead…unless of course you’re a virgin. Pregnant women steer clear, concerned that stepping under the shadowy wings could cause the loss of their child. It’s haunted, it’s cursed, and everything in-between. 

Due to the amount of shenanigans the statue attracts, the cemetery security keeps a pretty close eye on it. Vandals have snapped off several of the fingers doing who knows what with them, and kids giggle and drink and carousing under its wings. If you got for a visit (or a kiss) make sure to behave yourself…someone is watching.

Know Before You Go

Head north on Governor Street in Iowa City. Turn left at Brown Street and proceed into the Oakland Cemetery. Follow the road, sticking mostly to the right, as she will appear about halfway back in the cemetery under a street lamp.