Friends of Woodlawn establishing unique cremation garden
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- The Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery are undertaking a new project to help the cemetery keep up with modern trends, and give a unique way for families to memorialize their loved ones.
When you think about a cemetery, you probably think about tombstones, monuments, and mausoleums. But the Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira will soon have another option.
"With more people being cremated these days, the idea came about that we should create a cremation garden and thereby give it a different kind of environment for people to spend their eternity in," says Jim Hare, who sits on the Board of Directors for Friends of Woodlawn.
It's called a 'columbarium.' Friends of Woodlawn spent more than $22,000 from their own funds, and -- along with other funding sources -- were able to bring in the new feature this past fall.
"The Friends of Woodlawn have purchased the columbarium that is in back of us and then we sought grants and community support that will do the landscaping in the next few months and create what's called the Heller Garden," Hare explains.
Heller Garden is named after the family who sold their property to make way for the cemetery back in 1858. The columbarium has 72 niches, or essentially paired-spots. Those will be sold through the cemetery at a cost of $1,550.
"That allows for two openings so that if the one spouse passes away it will be opened and their remains can be put in there, and then, with no charge, when the second spouse passes the same thing can happen. And then, of course, it will be engraved on front," says Hare.
The project has now truly become a community-effort. Along with receiving multiple grants, businesses have also stepped up with supply and service donations.
"We've received a donation of 75 tons of gravel from Dalrymple Gravel and Contracting. We've received 25 cubic yards of concrete from Ready Mix Concrete. A retired Hunt engineer employee did the design; the city is participating. It's rewarding that we've had such good response," Hare says.
The columbarium currently in place is just the beginning for the vision of the cremation garden. There are plans to expand the garden by adding more columbariums, walls and other similar structures.
Construction is expected to pick back up as soon as the weather breaks.