Monday, June 22, 2009

Camden, N.J., diocese opens new cemetery

The Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey has opened All Saints Cemetery in mostly rural Franklin Township in Gloucester County. The diocese says it opened the location here, because the membership has widened beyond the traditional urban/suburban locales. Here is a photo gallery from the Courier-Post site.

Feature story on garden cemeteries

This Associated Press article is being circulated around the nation. This is the version that appeared in the Abilene Reporter News.

Mount Auburn expansion effort: Taxes, etc.

The famous Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has an agreement to buy 2 acres for expansion. This story details efforts to gain tax revenue from the non-profit cemetery, which is exempt from paying real estate taxes. The cemetery wants to enter into a Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement. An earlier agreement that expired in 2006 called for Mount Auburn to pay $20,000 a year. Since then, under terms of that agreement, it's paid $1 a year.
Mount Auburn was the first cemetery in the Rural Cemetery Movement. I'm unfamiliar with the PILOT agreement for cemeteries; if it's the first to create such an agreement, it'd be interesting to see whether others follow suit. I'll be doing the research on this.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Residents rally around hidden black cemetery

Residents in Miami are coming to the defense of a potential former black cemetery found in a construction site, where affordable housing is planned.

Kansas City Jewish cemetery chapel gets makeover

A beautification program is ongoing at Blue Ridge Cemetery. Says one synagogue member:
The cemetery is not for the dead; it’s for the living. It’s for people to
recognize and show respect for their family. The Torah doesn’t say you have to
love your parents; it says you have to honor them.

Mesa, Arizona, considers cemetery expansion

The City Council is considering a plan to buy about 3 acres of ground to expand the local cemetery. Cost to buy the land is estimated at $670,000

Cemetery used in science experiment to combat mosquitoes

Scientists in Peru tested the toxicity of a mosquito-larvae-killing substance by setting up locations in nooks and crannies of a cemetery. They put the deadly substance into small spots of moisture, and, reports the New York Times:
The researchers found that putting stations in as little as 3 percent of
the available spots in the cemetery resulted in coverage of almost all the
breeding habitats in the immediate area, and mortality of up to 98 percent of
the mosquito larvae.

Overgrown Camden, N.J., cemetery overwhelms families

No one is taking care of Evergreen Cemetery in Camden, resulting in overgrowth, debris and other signs of disrepair. Click here for a gallery of photos from the Courier Post in New Jersey

The Tapho Files 2: Andres Lepik

This edition of The Tapho Files features Andres Lepik, curator of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which is hosting the exhibit “In Situ: Architecture and Landscape” through Jan. 18, 2010.
Lepik, who was hired by MoMA in July 2007, previously was chief curator of the 20th- and 21st-century architecture collection at the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin. He originally was a student of art history, who also loved the study of architecture and, most recently, of landscape architecture, thanks in part, he says, to his appreciation of Central Park.
“In Situ” draws on MoMA’s permanent collection in featuring some of the most famous landscape architecture in the world. Included is artwork of three cemeteries: Erik Gunnar Asplund’s Woodland Crematorium in Stockholm, Sweden; Aldo Rossi’s San Cataldo Cemetery, near Modena, Italy (pictured here; credit is below); and Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos’s Igualada Cemetery, near Barcelona, Spain.
The following Q&A is condensed from our conversation of Friday, June 19, 2009:

Whistling Past the Graveyard: What was the impetus for including cemeteries in this exhibit?

Andres Lepik: I was looking at what we had in the collection. The project was related to landscaping, and I found that there were cemeteries also in the collection that I didn’t know. And in looking in the material, we found three of them, and that’s the reason (they were included). We don’t have much landscape design in the architecture collection; it was never a purpose of the collection, there was never an interest in it. But we have some, so (we decided), let’s put the few we have together.
It was a natural step to include the cemeteries, because otherwise, I couldn’t have filled the room. … One project we found, and then I saw that we had two others, and I said, OK, let’s do one wall with the cemeteries. There are some famous examples here in the collection. Let’s bring all three together and make one wall, like it’s a chapter in landscape architecture.

WPTG: These were things already in the collection.

AL: The whole exhibition is based on the permanent holdings in our collection … Architecture design cannot be presented the whole year, because these graphics and watercolors will fade out. We have to bring them back to storage once in a while. The maximum we can show them is like three to six months and then they have to have a rest, so that means we cannot keep those drawings in the wall forever, because they would fade out in the light.

WPTG: When you started looking through the material to decide what you were going to include in the exhibit, was it a surprise that you decided that you could include cemeteries. In all honesty, there are other things you could have brought out.

AL: I thought it’s a very interesting part for architects. We have some beautiful drawings here. I thought this was really, really interesting … to bring the audience into this room, with what you might expect – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house, the model in the collection … and the cemeteries could be something for people to think about. The relationship between cemeteries and landscape. How architects approach the topic.

WPTG: That’s one of the things I’ve learned in my research. When people are told about the subject, and learn about the subject, it comes together naturally for them. But it’s not something that’s the first thing on people’s minds. … You say you have drawings in this exhibit?
AL: Yes, we have three cemeteries. The first one is Erik Gunnar Asplund. He did this cemetery in Stockholm, which is called Woodland Cemetery, Woodland Crematorium. This is a famous project. He worked on it for more than 10 years, 15 years, and he developed the whole landscaping and all the buildings … It’s great … It’s from the earlier times (of the 20th century). It was finished around 1937, 1936 … There are five drawings.
From the later century, around 1971, we have Aldo Rossi’s San Cataldo, which is near Modena in Italy, which is a very interesting contrast to the other one. In Italy and Spain, there is a completely different tradition for the cemeteries, because they put the urns in walls. And in the northern countries, they have this sort of park-like, open landscaping, where you have the graves in the earth, and in Italy and Spain, you have these ashes in urns that you put into walls. You have these buildings constructed, which encloses landscape, and the other is more like a landscape that includes some buildings. I found it quite interesting that we can have both topologies, the northern topology of Asplund, and the southern Europe, Aldo Rossi. They’re from different times in the century. This opens up the spectrum (to) the different range of possibilities.

WPTG: The third one is …

AL: The third one is by Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos. A Spanish cemetery, Igualada; it’s near Barcelona. It’s pretty interesting; it’s kind of like the Aldo Rossi, the building walls for the urns, but at the same time it’s open. It’s an extension of an existing cemetery, but they chose to enhance the landscape and build some part into the mountains, or the hills there. Like to make it an experience of walking through a landscape of the dead. It’s a very, very interesting project. I mean, we have only a paper model; it’s not enough. I would like to have more…know better what this project is.

WPTG: The Aldo Rossi … that’s also drawings?

AL: A set of three drawings.

WPTG: Did you find any evidence that there was ever any American cemeteries included in the museum’s permanent collection?

AL: No, not that I know. I’m not sure. I didn’t go through all the files and records, but as far as I know and as far as I talked to colleagues … as far as landscape architecture, it has never been thematized in this way. As far as landscape architecture, it's neve been done. The Woodland has been shown in other exhibitions before … but never as a topic of cemeteries.

WPTG: And again, from my personal observation, I don’t think cemeteries (in America) have been given that kind of frame of reference as perhaps in Europe ... I don’t think there’s the same kind of recognition about the possibility ... In some cases they are, but I still think they are more on the periphery of people’s consciousness than perhaps in Europe.

AL: That’s absolutely right. In Europe, if you go to ... cities, there is a sort of tourism to go to cemeteries and to find famous graves of famous people and also something architecturally interesting in cemeteries, to go and see them. I’ve never heard of that in the U.S. Maybe some historic examples here, but ... you don't go for the architecture or the landscaping. You go because of the relevance, not for the architecture or the landscaping.


Art: Aldo Rossi (Italian, 1931-1997)Gianni Braghieri (Italian, born 1945)Cemetery of San Cataldo Modena, Italy, Aerial perspective (1971)Crayon and graphite on sepia diazotype. 24 x 49 3/4" (61 x 126.4 cm)The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2000

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cemetery makeover planned in Vineland, NJ

A historic Jewish cemetery in Vineland, New Jersey, will get a $250,000 makeover in time for the city's 150th birthday celebration in August 2011. Among the notables buried at Siloam Cemetery are the city's founder, Charles K. Landis, and the creator of Welch's Grape Juice, Dr. Thomas Welch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Town's groundskeeping policies, re: herbicides

This is a letter to the editor from a city grounds official in Dickinson, North Dakota. Among other things, he mentions the hazards of using herbicides, which, if not used under the right conditions, can harm trees on the property.

Marietta, Georgia, mulls cemetery enclosure

Officials are discussing whether to fix the existing fence or replace it with something new, but similar in appearance.

Resident files complaint over conditions of Ohio cemetery

Citing poor groundskeeping, damaged tombstones and other poor conditions, a resident in Middletown, Ohio, filed a complaint with state officials about the operations of a historic cemetery. Said cemetery volunteer Vivian Moon:
“Middletown Cemetery hasn’t been anyone’s priority for more than 60

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cemetery records fading from history

This is a little different from the usual material we cover here, but this, I'm sure, is a typical case for very old cemeteries in America: The town of Northboro, Mass., is having trouble maintaining its oldest cemetery records, which are fading and falling apart.

Update on Peoria library site

An Illinois state archeologist is scheduled to visit a site Wednesday (June 17) in Peoria where workers uncovered 93 gravesites at the site of a proposed library expansion.

Sheriff's swap: One "adult beverage" for a cemetery

The sheriff in Hopewell, Va., owns a historic cemetery in his town, which came into his possession at a local tavern.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New York cemetery for sale

Officials in New York City are trying to sell a 13-acre site.

Cemetery discovered at Florida construction site

Historians and archeologists are exploring a site near the edge of some of Miami's oldest neighborhoods. This article from the Miami Herald gives some good details. The construction is for affordable housing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Greensboro, North Carolina,, wrestles with neglected cemetery

Citizens are striving to resurrect and preserve an old cemetery in the town.
The Westhampton Cemetery is close to capacity, but cemetery and town officials cannot decide on a plan to acquire more land. This is the latest story, first brought to you here. Officials thought they had a plan to swap land in a pricey neighborhood for land near a dam, but the dam site is environmentally wetlands. Nothing actually wrong with the original site, from what I read, except that folks in the price neighborhood don't want a cemetery next door. (Author's note: ... even though cemeteries don't depreciate home prices, at least no more than Wall Street greed-heads.)

Work begins on preserving old Maine gravestones

Workers are preserving old gravestones at the Old North Cemetery in Portsmouth, which was established in 1753.

Cemeteries "Fight the Bite"

This is a bit unusual, but worth mentioning here: Cemeteries in California have required visitors to leave flowers in a water-absorbing polymer, in order to cut down on the amount of free-standing water that could become breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitos. Interesting idea.

Library site has graves

Archeologists examining a site for a planned library have found remnants of an old gravesite.

Article about garden cemeteries

A piece at the lifestyle section of Raleigh, North Carolina TV station WRAL's Web site has a nice overview piece about garden cemeteries, which were part of the rural cemetery movement.

New Mexico cemetery in disrepair

A cemetery in Bloomfield has fallen into disrepair. The president of the cemetery association says that a part-time, temporary caretaker cannot do the job and that individual gravesites are the responsibility of the family members.

Massachusetts National Cemetery picks firm for expansion

An architectural firm in Boston has been chosen to design the expansion of Massachusetts National Cemetery. The primary reason for the project is the increasing number of deaths of World War II-era veterans. Construction should begin next year and be finished by 2012.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Erosion in Canada threatens cemetery

Some graves could tumble into the Arctic Red River in the North West Territory, because of the thawing permafrost and subsequent erosion.

Cemetery and prairie preservation

Thanks to a connection at MyCity, who told me that in Indiana, the Nature Conservancy is helping preserve some prairie land in and around a cemetery...Seems as if both sides will benefit.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sports columnist finds plenty to write about in local cemetery

The terrific Dayton Daily News writer Tom Archdeacon notes some of the great sports figures whose graves he's found in Woodland Cemetery.

Texas legislature makes changes to cemetery law

This is from the Austin American-Statesman. The article cites a number of measures passed by lawmakers, including this:
On the grave end of the cradle-to-grave spectrum, lawmakers OK'd HB 2927,
which awaits [Gov. Rick] Perry's review.
The measure was sparked by concerns raised when
a Texas Ranger Museum expansion project in Waco could have caused disturbance at
an adjacent historical cemetery. A legislative review concluded that state
cemetery laws needed an overhaul.
The review led to the bill, which, among
other things, clarifies state jurisdiction over cemeteries and mandates a "good
faith effort to locate and remove all human remains, any casket or other
covering of the remains and any funerary objects associated with the remains"
whenever a burial site is disturbed

Michigan towns debate cemetery funding, operation

Concerned that there is no firm way to create a budget, towns in Iron County, Michigan, try to work out a satisfactory arrangement

Georgia county zoning board considers family cemetery

The zoning board will consider whether a family can establish a cemetery. The measure also must get county OK.

Ohio cemetery falls into disrepair

Another report of a neglected cemetery, this one in Ohio.

TV report highlights neglected Detroit cemeteries

Government cutbacks have led to problems of neglect at some cemeteries in Detroit

Kansas City's Elmwood Cemetery

Here's one man's walking tour of the historic cemetery.

Cycling in Arlington?

A debate is ensuing in and around the nation's capital over whether cyclists should be allowed to ride in Arlington National Cemetery. Here is Streetsblog's take on the issue.

Squirrel stealing cemetery flags

Reports out of Port Huron, Michigan, reveal that a squirrel has stolen about a dozen flags from a cemetery as he and his mate build their nest.