By Richard Heath
Special to the Gazette
Forest Hills Cemetery began construction early in 2016 on The Garden Mausoleum, a unique, adaptive reuse of the 1871 Receiving Tomb.
The Garden Mausoleum is a community-style, above-ground burial that reduces the costs of internment.
The Forest Hills Garden Mausoleum – about half acre on a slope behind the Milmore Memorial – reuses an original, historic but redundant building; the receiving tomb in which bodies would be stored in winter months before the ground could be dug out. Designed by Carl Fehmer and William Ralph Emerson, it was completed in 1871. Forest Hills Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
The receiving tomb was really two buildings: an underground vault in which 237 holding tombs were built below three brick ventilation and light shafts and the Gothic Revival granite portico. After being partly restored four years ago, the portico is being adapted – with its original wrought iron doors – as a gateway to an open-air courtyard flanked by walls set into the slope which will contain 240 internment chambers.
In the center, a cast iron fountain with a woman archer will be placed behind the original building; the archer was delivered in September and is set near the flagpole for viewing.
The size and outline of the Garden Mausoleum sticks to the original footprint of the original receiving tomb.
When the project is completed next year, the portico with its beautiful French floor tiles will be completely restored.
The design work was done by George Milley, president of Forest Hills Cemetery, in consultation with Carrier Mausoleum Construction of Montreal, who are the engineers and builders.