The Riverside Cemetery Foundation's ongoing mission is to preserve, maintain, embellish and enhance the historical integrity of the grounds and buildings within our 140-year old cemetery.
Donations, both large and small, have been made by many persons and families as well as companies and foundations. The Foundation has an IRS 501(c)(3) designation, and gifts to the Riverside Cemetery Foundation are tax deductible as provided by law.
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THE CHALLENGE OF PRESERVING THE VICTORIAN CHAPEL LED TO THE CREATION OF THE RIVERSIDE FOUNDATION
As reported in the History Section regarding the dedication of Riverside Cemetery in 1876, the Victorian stone Chapel was also dedicated and ready for service. It was used and enjoyed frequently for funeral services for many decades. You have a very special treasure available here for your funeral and/or memorial services.
Our Chapel was built by our founders between August and November of 1876 for the sacred purpose of having an interdenominational place for their funerals.
However, over the span of time since 1876, many funeral traditions changed and services were held less often in the Chapel and more often in Funeral Homes. Due to its not being used, it was boarded up in 1953. As years went by, ageing, weather, and lack of use, the structure gradually deteriorated and became in need of serious repair.
In 1992, it was necessary to decide to either restore this magnificent structure or admit it was going to slip into complete uselessness, and not be available for future generations.
Fortunately, no one wanted this structure to succumb to its inevitable ruin, and in 1992 the Riverside Cemetery Foundation was established initially to restore our treasured Chapel.
Donations were made by many individuals, and there were also some matching contributions. Many of our Friends of Riverside gave generously and funding was finally sufficient to allow for restoration to begin.
Extensive exterior masonry rebuilding was necessary, followed by a new slateline shingle roof which resembles real gray slate.
Several windows were rebuilt to their original leaded glass design. The finished open wood ceiling of the Porte Cochere was repaired and reinforced. The resulting appearance was simply breathtaking, very heart warming, and nostalgic.
This feeling is especially so for those of us who either remember this structural treasure boarded up and/or who recall the pre-1953 years when it was still actively being used for memorial services. Since then it has stood as a silent sentinel and as a majestic monument to the long and proud heritage of our Association.
To begin the interior restoration, several broken-out sections of the plaster were repaired and cement plastering of the sanctuary was done. The surface was then re-scored to recreate the original large stone block appearance. Then the rebuilding, to exact original design, of the two large multi-ridged, overhanging ledges along the tops of the north and south walls was done. The walls were painted in a faux ashler design to create a soft, sandstone appearance. The highly arched, deep mahogany colored wooden drop ceiling was left in place.
All interior woodworking—window moldings, ceiling, and large entrance doors were refinished magnificently. The outside framing of the front doors, the stained-leaded-glass window above them, and the rebuilt wooden understructure of the Port Cochere over the entrance roadway, and the rear doors were also completely refinished. Insulation, never previously used, was laid above the entire sanctuary ceiling.
We had the good fortune to obtain six, twenty-foot, century-old pews from among those removed a few years ago from the historic Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Euclid Ave. Their dark walnut color and late 19th century design certainly provide a majestic, old-English character to the entire room.
They are true masterpieces.
Three pews are on each side of the Sanctuary and face the center aisle, as was originally done, and are very similar to some of the old historic Cathedrals in England.
Finally the finishing touches were accomplished of a hardwood pulpit and casket bier, Victorian design carpeting, tiled foyer area, and lighting fixtures. As a final completion an electric organ was donated by one of our families and a local church donated hymnals.
This restoration project has been the collective effort of over 100 persons and businesses. This accomplishment is a tumultuous legacy from all of the thoughtful sources of several generations of the historic Brooklyn Centre Community and its oldest entity, Riverside Cemetery .
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RIVERSIDE CHAPEL RE-CONSECRATION AND RE-DEDICATION
With the project completed it was time for a formal rebirth of the Chapel. A service of Re-dedication and Re-consecration for the restored Cemetery Chapel was held on June 6, 1999 with over 115 persons attending on that beautiful, sunny day. We were fortunate to have several participating clergy:
Rev. Robert Prichard, Cleveland Freewill Baptist Church; Rev. Neil Wilds, Brooklyn Memorial United Methodist Church; Rev. Robert Andrew, St. Philip the Apostle Episcopal Church; Rev. Donald Wilson, Olmsted Community Church; and Rev. David Fallon, La Sagrada Familia Catholic Church. Gifts of Music were given by the Cleveland Freewill Baptist Church and our General Manager and his wife, William R. and Marijane Halley.
A bagpipe introit of "Amazing Grace" was played by Mr. Don Willis while he completely circled the building. Following the Call to Worship, the opening hymn, "The Church's One Foundation", was accompanied by Jack McKee, our Chapel organist, and his son Scott on trumpet.
Our General Manager Bill Halley gave a historical overview of the Chapel from its 1876 construction through its 1995-1998 restoration. This was followed by two very inspirational quartet numbers sung by Rev. and Mrs. Prichard, their daughter, and son-in-law.
The clergy then stationed themselves in four corners of the room, and Rev. Wilson from the pulpit, lead us in a responsive Consecration liturgy.
Bill Halley concluded this happening with a bass solo, "Bless This House".
Following a reading of scripture passages, the singing of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", and a reassuring Pastoral Prayer, Rev. Wilson delivered a short meditation focusing on Biblical background for consecrating Houses of Worship such as ours. Marijane and Bill Halley concluded with a duet of "How Great Thou Art".
Rev. Fallon then led us in the recitation of The Twenty-Third Psalm, after which we all sang "The Old Rugged Cross".
Rev. Prichard offered the benediction, after which Don Willis presented a Bagpipe response of "Atholl Highlander". He started near the front door and proceeded eastward down Centennial Drive until his sound faded away.
The postlude was again an organ and trumpet duet with Jack and Scott McKee who rendered a stirring version of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". A pastry and punch reception followed immediately.
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RIVERSIDE CHAPEL, NOW IN ITS THIRD CENTURY OF SERVICE
Our Chapel is available to those wanting a very intimate and sacred place for a funeral or memorial service. When the large four-inch thick front doors are closed, an atmosphere of Divine reverence envelops the entire sanctuary, and offers a most reassuring, peaceful, and calming comfort for everyone. The seating capacity is approximately 85 people.
This is a free-standing, Victorian era stone chapel, without mausoleum crypts and the echoing sounds from granite and marble walls so common with similar facilities provided at newer cemeteries in more recent decades.
Recorded pipe organ music is played at funeral services without charge. We can also key-in and play specific songs from your own CD's which were special to your departed loved one. We have an organist on call who will play our Hammond organ and provide hymns of your choice for a nominal charge. We're confident you will be very pleased and proud, as all of us are, with the warm and comforting atmosphere experienced within this very charming little church.
The Riverside Foundation's ongoing existence is now helping us to perpetuate the general beauty and tranquility of our historic over 130-year-old Cemetery for the comfort and pleasure of all our families and visitors.
If you would like to be included among Foundation supporters, you are invited to inquire and we will be glad to communicate with you.
In addition to the maintenance and repairs to the Victorian Chapel, our Foundation can also be used to support other Cemetery needs as benefiting the general public. Some of the needs are replacement, care, and maintenance of trees and landscaping on the grounds, and the ongoing restoration of our several miles of roadways.
Its 501(c)(3) IRS designation allows all financial gifts to the Foundation to be fully tax deductible to the extent provided by law.
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