Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 24, 2017, pg. 9
The fall months is a wonderful time to take a stroll through Riverside Cemetery (established in 1837) with its beautiful colors and view of the Kalamazoo River. Take time to notice the variety of tombstones and inscription styles as you pass by the various graves. Perhaps you might notice the cemetery office at the top of the hill on the left as you enter the main driveway. This small office building is 113 years old and has played a vital part in the operations of this burial grounds.
The Cemetery Commission of 1904 took on the project of planning a cemetery office building. The commission consisted of John Ott, chairman; Charles Raynor, John Finley, Fred G. Pahl, and George Barry. The Albion Recorder reported on February 24, 1904, "The building as contemplated will be built of cement block, with dimensions of about 24 feet by 30 feet, and will contain an office, waiting room, tool room, closets and vault for the cemetery records. The probable expense involved will be about $1,000. The city has long felt the need of just such a building. In inclement weather much inconvenience is felt because of inadequate shelter. Then too, the desirability of having an office, with its records convenient to the cemetery is apparent to all."
The Albion city appropriated $1,250 for the project to be paid for from the Cemetery fund. The office was erected at the top of the hill near the main entrance to the cemetery. The upper portion of the cement block walls, resembling stone, were made from blocks cast on site. Interestingly enough, the contractor for the job, August Arndt, had helped erect the nearby Riverside Receiving Vault in 1886 (Thatís where they placed the dead bodies during the frozen winter months until the ground thawed in the spring). The office building construction mimics that of the vault. The blocks are the same size and shape, and a similar pink mortar was used.
The Cemetery office suffered a fire on October 15, 1992 as a result of a lightning strike. The fire destroyed a portion of the interior of the building amounting to about $10,000 damage, but the precious cemetery records suffered only smoke damage. The interior was subsequently restored in the following months.
Here in 2017, our Cemetery office is in need of some necessary repairs. Most importantly, the roof shingles need to be replaced as soon as possible. A scrape, caulk and paint job to the trim is also needed, as well as various specific projects inside of the building. With the City of Albionís budget and expenditures the way they are, perhaps one of our community-civic organizations could come up with the funds and labor as a community project to help make the necessary repairs to that office building. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Riverside Cemetery office as it appeared on a snowy day in the 1990s. How many of our readers have visited Riverside Cemetery recently?
The Riverside Cemetery Office, circa 1990s
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic