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Right after the Second World War, around 1947, Roswell Barratt, a noted architect and parishioner, drew a plan for a semi-circular columbarium to be built approximately where the Memorial Garden is now. The cost of the masonry proved to be prohibitive and the drawings were stored until the plan was resurrected in the mid-eighties. At that time, we reviewed the plans and since they were drawn, and we didn’t want to offend Roswell, who was very much around then, we presented the plans to the Parish and to the HDC. The cost was substantial, and none of us can remember exactly what it would have cost, but a columbarium stone wall is considerably different than one that would be built on private property and would have involved a great deal of site leveling to avoid a fortress look. In building a columbarium there are a number of considerations that don’t come into play with residential masonry. We also presented a number of kinds of stone to the HDC, in case their reservations concerned the stone to be used.
The Historic District Commission rejected the plan outright, saying a cemetery was inappropriate for Trinity and that it would not be an appropriate addition to Southport.
Ignoring their comments about a cemetery being appropriate, we had another plan drawn, and this plan, which was much less obtrusive and grand, was also presented to the HDC; they also rejected that one. So we drew up another somewhat along the lines of the one at Southport Congregational Church, flat on the ground, of flagstone (sometimes referred to as “bluestone”) and they also rejected that one.
The committee at that time consisted of the Associate Rector, Jenni Matheson, Grove Stoddard (chairman), Judy Nessel, Bill Lazaruk, and Jean Whitney. We worked for four years to implement the plan of having a columbarium, from 1984-1989, more or less.
Unwilling to give up, and after we had taken three different plans to the HDC, we returned to the Parish and asked them to vote on whether or not to continue trying to build a columbarium, or if perhaps they would prefer a Memorial Garden, and we showed them a plan. The consensus of the Parish was overwhelmingly for a Memorial Garden. It had always been the plan to include a garden with the columbarium, and a number of families had contributed toward this, starting about 1975. The Causbie family gave the first donation, and sadly they had moved away when the garden was finally built, and so had The Rev. Jenni Matheson who had worked so hard to make it come about. Now we had the money to install the Garden, plus additional donations that families gave when the plan was presented. These families are listed in the Memorial Garden brochure. It was agreed that the Garden would be a repository for ashes, not containers of ashes, and this met with the approval of the Parish and those who were delegated to make the final decisions. Consequently, the garden was planted with copious amounts of myrtle so that holes could easily be dug to inter ashes. The Parish approved the plan, and the garden was installed in the summer of 1990, shortly after the Rev. Al Votaw and the Rev. Rick Alton arrived at Trinity. It was dedicated on All Saint’s Day that fall. Since then, the ashes of many parishioners and their families have been buried in the garden.
In 1994, Jean Crawford gave the Celtic cross in memory of her husband, Henry, who had died the year before. Jean followed Henry into the garden in 1997 and their ashes are interred directly behind the cross. Greens Farms residents, the Crawfords were long-time devoted parishioners. Many of us still remember them sitting in the front row at the 8:00 service.
A place in the garden may be reserved at any time, and many parishioners have taken advantage of the option to choose a spot in the garden considerably in advance of their deaths, sparing their families at a time when they have enough to do. It is extremely affordable: interment in the garden requires no containers since ashes are buried directly in the garden. There are no place markers, and the names and necrology of the interred are on a plaque in the ambulatory. A map in the Administrator’s office shows where each person’s ashes have been buried or will be buried, and anyone may choose a place and pay a modest fee to reserve it. Children do not find this method of burial frightening or intimidating, and they are usually very willing to volunteer to participate in the process as family and friends fill in the hole with soil. They have asked some very pertinent questions and seem to understand the process of “dust to dust” far better than some adults. They see the garden as a friendly place and like the thought of being able to “visit” their grandparents or other relatives or friends of their family’s.
For a list of those interred in the Memorial Garden, go here. The list will be updated periodically.