Monday, December 10, 2007


Last month the Columbus Dispatch did a nice feature on the Old Franklinton Cemetary and its adoptive caretaker Gary Royer. I have always found historic cemetaries with their weathered markers enchanting and fun to walk around. Not only are may of the markers beautifully crafted but they represent a community's past. Unfortunately these old burial grounds become neglected as family members of the buried move or pass away and maintance funds are redirected elsewhere.

Victorian era cemetaries were designed to be pleasure grounds where families regularly gathered and enjoyed the landscaped grounds. As public parks and private backyards became commonplace cemetaries became just where Aunt Mildred went after she expired. How people began to perceive cemetaries became unnesarily completely different. While I doubt that I'll propose a game of touch football at Old Franklinton any time soon, I believe cemetaries can be better integrated into the still-living community.

One of the biggest gripes urban Columbusites talk about it is the lack of dog parks in the city so how about dog walking community adopt the Old Franklinton Cemetary as a designated site? I imagine several people just made horrified faces at this suggestion. Before you judge hear me out.

The Congressional Cemetary in DC,the final resting place of J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa, was until the 1990's a neglected, vandalized cemetary despite its historical significance. Dog walkers saved the park from going to hell. Residents formed a neighborhood association and began using the cemetary for their dogs to exercise. The increased number of people in the park discouraged illegal activity and allowed the community to meet one another. The focus of the group then turned to restoring the cemetary and funded its activities through a dog walking membership program. People pay $200 a year and $50 for each dog to use the grounds.

Check out their dog walking site at
and the cemetary at

Hollywood looked to its past to save its historic cemetary. Every summer beginning in May the Hollywood Forever Cemetary hosts a movie series that features many of the stars buried on the grounds. Old movies are shown outdoors on the side of a masoleum and movie goers can bring refreshments. For one evening a week the cemetary comes alive and becomes a fun gathering space for the community.

The website is at

I think people's mindsets need to be changed about cemetaries. Sure, cemetaries need to be respected but they do not need to become off limit areas. Deceased people are not disrespected by people enjoying the cemetary grounds with their pets and loved ones. The deceased are disrespected when we forget about them completely.


Conso said...

i love when you integrate a little bit of hollywood!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.