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Green Lawn Cemetery is a historic private rural cemetery located in Columbus, Ohio in the United States. Organized in 1848 and opened in 1849, the cemetery was the city's premier burying ground in the 1800s. An American Civil War memorial was erected there in 1891, and chapel constructed in 1902 and expanded in 1963. With 360 acres (150 ha), it is Ohio's second-largest cemetery.
Franklinton Cemetery was the first cemetery established in what later became Columbus. It was built on land donated by Lucas Sullivant on River Street near Souder Avenue in 1799. Many of the early settlers of Franklinton and Columbus were buried there. The 11.5-acre (4.7 ha) North Graveyard followed in 1812, and the 11.25-acre (4.55 ha) East Graveyard in 1841. A 3-acre (1.2 ha) Roman Catholic cemetery opened in 1848 (although it had been in use as early as 1846).[a]
Establishment of Green Lawn
By the mid-1840s, growing settlement in the area left the Franklinton, North, and East cemeteries too small to accommodate more burials. On February 24, 1848, the Ohio General Assembly enacted a law providing for the incorporation of cemetery associations by 10 or more people. On August 2, 1848, a group of Columbus area business and civic leaders that included A.C Brown, William G. Deshler, William A. Platt, Thomas Sparrow, Alfred P. Stone, Joseph Sullivant, William B. Thrall, and others formed the Green Lawn Cemetery Association. The group secured a charter from the Ohio General Assembly on March 23, 1849, incorporating the "Green Lawn Cemetery of Columbus". A public meeting was held on July 12, and a committee of 11 local leaders appointed to select a site and draft articles of incorporation.[b] The committee presented the public with draft articles of incorporation on August 2. These were accepted, and the first board of directors organized on August 26.
The board sought a site of about 50 to 100 acres (20 to 40 ha) of gently rolling land well-covered in trees and shrubs. The first purchase of 83 acres (34 ha) of forested land was made in the early spring of 1849 at a cost of $3,750 ($100,000 in 2018 dollars). This consisted of a 39-acre (16 ha) tract obtained from Judge Gershom M. Peters[c] and a 44-acre (18 ha) tract from William Miner.[d] A public picnic was held on the ground on May 23, during which a partial clearing of a small portion of the land occurred. Architect Howard Daniels was hired to lay out the roads, paths, and plots. Daniels had spent several months in Europe studying rural cemetery design there, and had recently designed his first cemetery, Cincinnati's widely praised Spring Grove Cemetery. A formal dedication of the cemetery occurred on July 9. A superintendent's cottage was erected near the main gate on Brown Road, and Richard Woolley appointed the first superintendent.
Growth of the cemetery
At the time, the cemetery was located 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of the nascent village of Columbus. The first burial at Green Lawn Cemetery was that of a child, Leonora Perry, on July 7, 1849. The second, and first adult, was Dr. B. F. Gard on July 12. The first headstone or other monument in the cemetery was erected the second week of October 1849 by William G. Deshler. It was for his wife, Olive, who had died at the age of 19. The monument consisted of an upright stone slab depicting a rose branch. The bloom itself was carved on the plinth on which the slab stood, and was inscribed "Olive, wife of William G. Deshler, age 19". After Green Lawn opened, most of the families with graves at Franklinton Cemetery moved their ancestral remains to Green Lawn.[e] Franklinton Cemetery quickly fell out of favor as a place to be buried. Those buried at North Graveyard also disinterred loved ones' remains and moved them to Green Lawn. By 1869, about half of those buried at North Graveyard had been reinterred at Green Lawn.
Green Lawn Cemetery lotholders voted to bar non-whites from being buried at Green Lawn in 1856.[f] It was not until 1872 that this restriction was lifted, and a segregated section set aside for African Americans.
By 1858, two more purchases of land had been made, and the cemetery expanded to 84 acres (34 ha) to accommodate the more than 1,000 burials which had occurred there. Daniels chose a rural cemetery design for Green Lawn. All the sections he laid out varied in size and shape. Lot sizes were anywhere from 100 to 1,200 square feet (9.3 to 111.5 m2) in size, and also came in a wide range of shapes.
In February 1864, the trustees of Green Lawn Cemetery offered to exchange burial lots with those individuals who still retained plots at North Graveyard. Green Lawn intended to build homes on the site of the abandoned North Graveyard and lease them in order to generate income. In addition, the Columbus, Chicago and Indiana Central Railway sought to condemn a portion of the burying ground for a railroad right of way. The two offers generated extensive litigation, as lotholders sought to prevent the disinterment of loved ones and those who had deeded land to the city tried to regain title to it. This litigation was not resolved until the late 1870s, and it was not until 1881 that most graves were removed from North Graveyard.[g]
On April 1, 1872, the cemetery purchased a 32-acre (13 ha) tract from Samuel Stimmel and a 30-acre (12 ha) tract from John Stimmel, bringing the cemetery's total size to 147 acres (59 ha). In 1887, Green Lawn expanded to 275 acres (111 ha), and Green Lawn Avenue opened to create an eastern entrance to the cemetery. In 1898, an iron bridge was built over a ravine between sections 54 and 55. By 1919, all the roads in the cemetery were of macadam, and had gutters.
The Soldiers and Sailors' Memorial was erected at Green Lawn Cemetery in 1891. Cemetery officials first set aside a section (M) for military burials on June 10, 1862. The Ex-Soldiers and Sailors' Association of Franklin County, a group of Civil War veterans, purchased four lots in section 28 in November 1881 for the interment of veterans. Two years later, the association began a campaign to raise funds for the design and erection of a veterans memorial in that section. Another four lots in section 28 were purchased in January 1886, and in March 1886 the Ohio General Assembly authorized the commissioners of Franklin County to levy a tax to aid in the construction of the memorial. A memorial design was approved in October 1886, and the memorial erected by the New England Granite Works of Hartford, Connecticut. The $8,900 ($200,000 in 2018 dollars) memorial was completed in November 1890.
Vandals struck Green Lawn Cemetery more than a dozen times beginning in the fall of 2015. The vandals initially knocked over gravestones, but over time the damage worsened. By early 2017, more than 600 monuments were damaged, most of them in historic sections bordering Brown Road (which has no streetlights). Cemetery officials estimated the cost of repairs at more than $1.25 million ($1,300,000 in 2018 dollars). Cemetery officials increased the frequency of nighttime security patrols in the cemetery and installed numerous security cameras in an attempt to stop the vandalism.[h]
In the wake of the vandalism, cemetery volunteers and instructors at Columbus State Community College created a geographic information systemcapstone course. Taught by Doreen Whitley Rogers, nonprofit executive and wife of a cemetery trustee, students in the course donated more than $10,000 ($10,221 in 2018 dollars) in free consulting services to the cemetery. Damaged graves were identified and damage documented, potential vandal points of entry noted, repair cost analyses generated, and patterns of criminal activity in the cemetery identified.
Green Lawn officials had long desired to build a chapel at the cemetery ever since its formation in 1848. A site was selected, but cemetery expansion made it less than ideal. A second site was selected, but again expansion rendered the site inappropriate. After the 1887 expansion, the board of directors felt secure enough to select a permanent location for the new chapel. Design and construction were put off until enough funds had been raised to erect a substantial building of excellent materials and workmanship. The fundraising effort neared completion in 1899, at which time the board selected architect Frank Packard to design the chapel. Packard was a natural choice, as he had advised the board for several years on the landscape design and aesthetics of the cemetery.
This structure, originally called the Mortuary Chapel, was dedicated on November 11, 1902. The chapel is in the Renaissance Revival style, and features a rotunda capped in red vitrified tile. The dome bears a resemblance to the Ohio Statehouse (then still under construction). The structure rests on a bed of gravel 8 feet (2.4 m) below the surface. The foundations are of concrete and stone, and arches of brick and concrete support the building above. The exterior walls are of white marble, while the interior walls are clad in "English vein" Italian marble.[i] The main entry doors are bronze and flanked by Ionic columns, while the interior floor is a geometric pattern of black and white tile. The dome, made of leaded art glass, supported by interior pilasters of bronze and marble.
The chapel contains two murals (depicting Truth and Wisdom), a number of mosaics, and windows of both leaded and stained glass. The art glass murals were designed by Frederick Wilson and executed by Tiffany & Co. The stained glass windows were designed by Tiffany & Co. The north window depicts Peggy Thompson, the first white woman known to die in the area, and the south window Isaac Dalton, a superintendent of the Soldier's Home in Columbus who took special care of wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. Peletiah Huntington, founder of what became Huntington Bancshares, donated the mosaics, murals, and stained glass windows. The rest of the chapel cost $24,000 ($700,000 in 2018 dollars). The funeral space in the chapel was dedicated to Huntington in 1902 with the placement of a bronze tablet there.
The Mortuary Chapel was designed to be a place where funerals could be held. Over time, few funerals were held there. Instead, the public began using the chapel as a meditative space, and requesting to be buried inside it. The chapel was renovated, a west wing with service room and bathrooms added, and a carillon with bells constructed in 1963. The leaded glass rotunda was capped with a concrete dome to protect it. The addition and carillon were in the Neoclassical style. A north wing was completed in 1979. The Thompson stained glass window was removed, and a door cut through to the new wing. The historic window was relocated to the east wall of the new wing, while a new stained glass window and fountain were placed at the west wall of the wing. The north wing serves as an indoor mausoleum.
The chapel was rededicated in the early 2000s as Huntington Chapel.
About Green Lawn Cemetery
Section 51, one of six sections at Green Lawn Cemetery set aside for war dead and veterans
Green Lawn Cemetery is privately owned by the nonprofit Green Lawn Cemetery Association. The cemetery is one of Ohio's most prominent rural (or "garden") cemeteries. Any member of the public may purchase a plot.
In the 21st century, Green Lawn Cemetery contained 360 acres (1.5 km2), making it Ohio's second-largest cemetery. About 80 acres (32 ha) were undeveloped. This represented roughly three sections, which cemetery officials said should provide burial space for another 100 to 150 years. About 27 miles (43 km) of roads wind through the burying ground.
There are roughly 4,300 trees belonging to 150 species planted at the cemetery. This includes three "state champion" trees (the largest and tallest trees of their species anywhere in the state). In 2013, the Audubon Society recognized Green Lawn Cemetery as an "Important Bird Area".
Sections at Green Lawn Cemetery were originally lettered in the order in which they were developed. The cemetery's rapid expansion forced the cemetery to begin numbering sections after running through the alphabet.
Notable structures and art
The Hayden family mausoleum is the cemetery's largest. Designed by local architect Frank Packard, it was completed for banker Charles H. Hayden in early 1905. Built at a cost of about $80,000 to $100,000 ($2,200,000 to $2,800,000 in 2018 dollars), the Neoclassical style tomb had a granite foundation, interior and exterior walls of white Vermont marble, and two Ionic columns on each side of the main entrance. The structure is 45 feet (14 m) wide, 55 feet (17 m) deep, and has a 45-foot (14 m) high dome. The interior is octagonal, and features two columns of marble with a hue like alabaster in each corner. The tomb originally contained eight marble sarcophagi, carved in Italy. The main doors were of bronze. Hayden wanted the construction of the mausoleum to be a surprise for his family, so Packard refused to tell the press or cemetery officials who commissioned the work until it was completed.
A row of small, Egyptian Revival mausoleums in section 65 contains the Packard mausoleum. Architect Frank Packard designed the Packard family mausoleum himself.
Grave of Governor William Dennison Jr.
Grave of Alfred Kelley and his immediate descendants
Grave of World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker
Notable individuals buried at the cemetery include:
^This cemetery had no name, but was generally referred to as the "Catholic Burying-Ground" and later the "Old Catholic Burying-Ground".
^The committee consisted of William B. Hubbard, William Kelsey, Robert McCoy, John Miller, A.F. Perry, William A. Platt, Joseph Ridgway Jr., Joseph Sullivant, William B. Thrall, and John Walton.
^The purchase was announced on January 25, 1849.
^Purchase of additional land was not originally contemplated, but moved and authorized at a board of directors on April 16, 1849.
^Not all family plots were moved, and many individual graves also remained at Franklinton Cemetery.
^The North Graveyard was only partially racially integrated when it opened. Although African Americans could be buried there, they were buried in a separate section. When the East Graveyard opened in 1841, the city required that it be racially integrated. This land was marshy, and was used as a potter's field.
^Not all bodies were removed. Several hundred bodies were never removed, and lay just 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 m) below the surface.
^White Italian marble comes in three classes: Sicilian (also known as Bianco Chiaro), with cloudy and irregular veins; Statuary, which has no clouds or veins; and Vein. In the United States, Sicilian and Vein are lumped together into a single category, known as English vein. English vein is classified as grade one (no clouds, well-defined light or heavy veins), grade two (light clouds, with well-defined light or heavy veins), and grade three (clouds and veins, light or heavy, well- or ill-defined).
^Division of Geological Survey (1992). Report on Ohio Mineral Industries: With Directories of Reporting Coal and Industrial Mineral Operators (Report). Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Department of Natural Resources. p. 6.