Your loved ones can now rub elbows with Akron’s elite — figuratively speaking.
Glendale Cemetery’s Millionaire’s Row — the drive of mausoleums that are the final resting places of some of the city’s historic residents — is now home to a columbarium.
The new wall-like structure, made with limestone, features rows of granite faced compartments — or niches — that are each big enough to handle two sets of ashes.
It’s the first designated place for cremated remains at the historical Glendale Cemetery, which dates to 1839 and bills itself as Akron’s oldest continuously operating cemetery.
John V. Frank, president of the nonprofit Glendale Cemetery, and a tireless promoter of the facility, likes to point out the proximity to the mausoleums.
Now, with the columbarium, Frank said, “you too can spend eternity on Millionaire’s Row.”
The columbarium was built in recognition of the increasing popularity of cremations, said Frank and other officials of the cemetery, at 150 Glendale Ave., west of downtown.
Roughly 37 percent of deaths in Ohio last year resulted in cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America, headquartered in Wheeling, Ill. That’s up from about 27 percent in 2005.
Nationwide, about 42 percent of deaths last year resulted in cremation. That’s up from 26 percent in 2000.
“The trustees of the nonprofit cemetery wanted to be able to meet today’s needs,” said Steven Kaut, who works part time as Glendale’s chief operating officer, and is an Akron city firefighter.
Frank, who for years was Akron’s Ward 8 councilman, noted that a major competitor is the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, which opened in 2000 with thousands of available columbarium niches. The national cemetery is administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
At Glendale, officials spent about $125,000 on the columbarium, as well as a grassy area for in-ground burial of ashes and a limestone gate that fronts both. The project included two reinforced concrete foundations, installed on either side of the 60-niche columbarium, for future additions. A total of 180 above-ground niches are planned.
Donors, who do not want to be identified, helped foot the bill.
The donors “felt we were on the right path,” said Frank, who acknowledged that the cemetery had budget crunches in past years. Officials have shored up finances, Frank said, and the operation has finished each of the past five years with a surplus. This surplus has been used for deferred maintenance.
The columbarium and gate were designed by Phil Steinberg, a principal with Akron’s Braun & Steidl Architects, and local landscape architect John Vittum collaborated on the design.
Kaut said the cemetery board “wanted a custom-built columbarium, rather than a pre-fabricated one.”
The cost of interning two sets of ashes in the columbarium is roughly $2,000, comparable to the cost of two in-ground plots large enough for caskets, Kaut said.
The cemetery marked its first interment of ashes in the columbarium Nov. 3.
“People think we’re an old relic and no longer operating,” Frank said, “but we are doing new things to keep up with today’s trends.”
The 150-acre facility has about 120 to 130 burials a year.
To learn more about Glendale Cemetery, go to www.glendaleakron.com.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.