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Glendale Cemetery marking 175th anniversary

5/29/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Four Glendale Cemetery buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Gothic Civil War Memorial Chapel, shown above, and the Bell Tower, shown below left.
Photos courtesy of Hitchcock Fleming & Associates Inc.
WEST AKRON — Akron’s Glendale Cemetery will commemorate 175 years of history May 30 in a ceremony to mark its founding and remember American war veterans resting at the burial ground established in 1839.

“This is a once-in-a-generation event,” said Gregory Bean, president of Friends of Historic Glendale Cemetery. “To remember our veterans and to recall almost two centuries of local history, we have chosen to focus on the role played by the cemetery for Akron’s Civil War troops.”

At 11:30 a.m., a rededication ceremony of Glendale will take place at the Civil War Chapel, which was built in 1876 by the Buckley Post of the Grand Army of the Republic to memorialize the contributions of all who served in the Civil War from the Greater Akron area, according to event officials.

In addition to tributes to be delivered by Mayor Don Plusquellic and Summit County Executive Russ Pry, re-enactors representing four historic founders of Glendale also will be on hand, according to event officials. The re-enactors from Actors’ Summit Theater will portray founders of Glendale Cemetery Dr. Jedidiah Commins, Simon Perkins Jr. and General Alvin Coe Voris. Mrs. Mary Ingersoll Tod Evans, founder of the Ladies Cemetery Association, also will be portrayed. Actors will read the actual words used in the dedication of the cemetery and the chapel, according to event officials.

Preceding the ceremony will be a funeral procession that will step off at 10:45 a.m. from the original town center of Akron known as Perkins Square, located on West Exchange Street between Bowery and Locust streets.

“It was this high ground overlooking the canal from which Simon Perkins imagined the town would grow,” said Dave Lieberth, an Akron historian and producer of the centeseptequinary event.

The procession will be led by a color guard composed of Civil War re-enactors from the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company G Living History Association, which is a nonprofit living history association that presents authentic impressions of Civil War-era soldiers, with uniform standards of the original 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

According to event officials, an authentic coffin will be placed in the glass-enclosed, horse-drawn hearse that was purchased by Akron’s Billow Co. funeral directors in 1892 and used for several decades before motorized vehicles took over. Two horses will draw the caisson from Perkins Square down West Exchange to the gates of Glendale (approximately one-half mile).

University of Akron percussionists will provide the 100-beats-a-minute drum cadence familiar to those who watched the funeral of President John Kennedy in 1963, according to event officials.

Downtown Akron businesses are encouraged to permit employees to join in the salute to veterans of all American wars by lining West Exchange Street between Bowery and Bishop streets from 10:45 to 11 a.m.

“We chose this date because of the special meaning it held for America for over a century,” said Bean. “We thought it was appropriate to honor this date once again.”

In 1868, May 30 was a day of remembrance called “Decoration Day,” and this lasted until 1999, when Congress moved Memorial Day to the third Monday in May, according to event officials.

The 11:30 a.m. ceremony at Glendale, which is free and open to the public, will feature the Freedom Brass Band of Northeast Ohio, which will open the ceremonies with “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean,” the song used as a national anthem in the Civil War era and until “The Star Spangled Banner” was adopted in 1931, according to event officials.

The ceremony will end at noon with the traditional playing of “Taps” and the Civil War era’s “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Vocalists Carla and Jason Davis will be accompanied by the Freedom Brass Band.

“Not only do the procession and ceremony allow us to remember those who have died in our service from every single American war and for whom Glendale is their final resting place,” said Bean, but “this event will also mark the beginning of a campaign to save Glendale’s historic bell tower.”

Currently, four Glendale Cemetery buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places: the Gothic Civil War Memorial Chapel (1876), the caretaker’s house (1869), the business office (1903) and the Bell Tower (1883), according to event officials.

The chapel has rolled cathedral glass windows imported from Scotland and was designed by architect Frank Weary (who also designed Buchtel Hall at UA and the Gothic Building on Mill Street, now home to Nuevo Restaurant), according to event officials.

The Bell Tower has extensive damage, according to event officials, and standing 60 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter, it boasts a spiral staircase topped by a flared pyramid roof. An architectural assessment indicates that $250,000 will be required to clean, repair and restore the tower.

That evening, Friends of Glendale Cemetery, a 501©(3) not-for-profit organization run by volunteers, will present A Night at the Mausoleum: An Evening to Die For, a fundraiser with proceeds to go toward the restoration of the Bell Tower. The ticket deadline for that event has passed.

For more information on the event, contact Patrick Kunklier at hfs at 330-376-2111, ext. 6963, or via email at pkunklier@teamhfa.com.

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