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Landscape Master Plan Unveiled for Green Lawn Abbey

Anne Evans Anne Evans Landscape Master Plan Unveiled for Green Lawn Abbey
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At their annual Open House on Memorial Day, the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association, informally known as the Friends of Green Lawn Abbey, unveiled the Master Plan for the Landscaping around the Abbey. The Landscape Plan is a collaborative effort between the GLAPA, the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus Landmarks Foundation and McGill Smith Punshon (MSP), a landscape firm out of Cincinnati known for its background in cemetery design.

With the overall plan to cost approximately $800k-1M and phase 1 of the plan (the terrace in the front of the building, parking and driveway, and drive-in loop by the street) to cost $300k, the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association is asking for donations and is hosting several events to raise the funds. The landscaping will create a functional, park-like setting in the open expanse that exists now. It will complement the Green Lawn Abbey and make the building’s physical presence as renowned as it should be. The group is committed to making the Abbey “not just a restored mausoleum but a self-supporting, operational mausoleum and memorial garden that looks and functions like a park for the community.”

In addition to raising funds for the landscaping, the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association has already completed roof repairs. “The roof was fixed in 2009-2010 with support from the National Park Service Certified Local Government (CLG) fund (the Abbey qualified by virtue of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places) and from the Columbus Foundation. The two-year project cost $35,000, $14,000 of which was raised by GLAPA through fundraisers and private donations.” The group is also seeking funds to repair the bronze doors. That project has an estimated cost of $30k.

The Green Lawn Abbey was built in 1927 by the Columbus Mausoleum Company. At the time it was the largest mausoleum in the area and had room for 600 crypts. Some famous Columbusites have their final resting places there, including the Lewis Sells family and Howard Thurston. The Lewis Sells family have the most decorative and ornate crypt in the building.

Lewis Sells Family Crypt:

Why would someone want to be buried in the Abbey? Originally, “the Abbey was one of Columbus’ earliest mausoleums built to service the general public,” said Kate Matheny, President of The Columbus Cemetery Association and Immediate Past President Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association. “Prior to that time mausoleums were private, built by families for themselves. However by the early 20th century, the country overall was more prosperous and people were responsive to the opportunity for above ground interment in an elegant, relatively permanent setting.”

She said that although all of the crypts are sold, about 100 remain unused. They are working with families to donate back unused crypts which will then be used for interment of cremated ashes. Storing cremated ashes is a main part of the business plan for the Abbey today which Matheny elaborates on:

“Our vision is for the Abbey to reopen, accepting created remains for interment. The Abbey’s capacity to store created remains to enormous. Inside the Abbey, approximately a thousand cremated remains can be accepted and stored in crypts and columbariums. With the redeveloped site, hundreds more can be accommodated. Re-establishing the Abbey as a functioning business means the endeavor can and will be self-sustaining.”

Some of the damage the group is working to repair and restore:

Some of the upcoming events include:

Great Gatsby: It’s a Lawn Party! Sunday, July 10, 2011. 4-6:30pm. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Lunch is $20 and kids under 12 are free. All proceeds go toward renovations.

Scotch and Cigars. September 10, 2011. A casual, laid back event featuring some of the finest cigars paired with equally impressive Scotches.

Bring Back the Magic. October. See some of the finest magicians perform astounding feats of magic.

Tales From the Crypt. October 29, 2011. A reenactment of the lives of the famous residents of Green Lawn Abbey.

The Green Lawn Abbey is located at 700 Greenlawn Ave., Columbus. To make a donation online, click here. Visit their website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

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