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  Riverside Cemetery
  3607 Pearl Road   Cleveland, Ohio   44109


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Riverside Cemetery is included in the designated Historical District within the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood. Both our Gatehouse/Office Building (1896) and our Victorian Stone Chapel (1876) are Nationally Registered buildings.

the chapel


Riverside's sandstone Chapel was constructed before the Dedication of the Cemetery in 1876. The architects were Bruch & Monks and the cost was approximately $3,855. In 1898 additions were added consisting of a porté cocheré in the front (east); three leaded glass gothic windows on the north, west, and south walls; and an outside covered rear stairway leading to the basement receiving vault, and a new furnace room and coal bin.

The architects for these additions were Steffens, Searles & Hirsh and the cost was $2,700. The architects’ ability to match additions to original structures was well known, and the blend between old and new was almost imperceptible. On the south side is a medallion of a bird with outstretched wings (left), which is emblematic of the departing spirit. The large carved medallion on the north side of the porté cocheré is a reproduction of one by Brevet found in the Bere la Chaise Cemetery in Paris enjoining all who pass by to be Silent. 

The Chapel was built for the sacred purpose of having an interdenominational place for funerals. In addition, a basement receiving vault was provided for holding caskets during harsh winters when hand-dug graves were not possible because of heavily frosted or snow covered ground. When the large, 4" thick doors are closed, an atmosphere of Divine Reverence envelops the entire room, and offers a most reassuring, peaceful, and calming comfort for everyone. 

To inquire about renting the Riverside Chapel, call us at 216.351.4800, or email us at

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the administration building


Interior, Riverside Gatehouse/Office Building

Every year many visitors admire and ask about our beautiful 19th Century, red brownstone Gatehouse/Office Building. It was designated a Cleveland Landmark in 1977, and listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings and Places in 1987. Its massive, castle-like, Romanesque design has become a very recognizable architectural sentinel greeting our many thousands of visitors annually upon their passage between our massive iron entrance gates.

Our original office was a small, wooden cottage-style structure which we're told was located in the southwest corner of the property, adjacent to what is now Willowdale Ave. We have a small picture of it hanging in our present building. As our need for larger quarters became increasingly apparent, the subject of a new office building was formally introduced at a Trustee Meeting on 12/9/1895.  It was received most favorably by all present, and was referred to the executive committee for plan development. On 5/4/1896 the architectural sketches of Charles W. Hopkinson were enthusiastically approved by the committee. The Clerk was asked to advise him of his selection, and request quotations on using red brownstone vs. granite, and his total supervision of the project. On 5/21/1896, Mr. Hopkinson's requested fee of 5% of the total construction cost was approved. Also, the ornamental garden at the split of the entrance roadway was chosen as the site for the new building.

On 6/30/1896 eleven sub-contractor bids were decided, as well as the huge red colored blocks of brownstone from the Long Meadow Massachusetts quarry. Granite was deemed far too expensive. The roof is red tile. The sum of accepted bids was $17,360 which would have allowed Mr. Hopkinson about $868 for his supervisory services. The heating system selected was the Pease Hot Air and Steam. The Masonry Contractor was John Barkley.

The construction began in the fall of 1896 and was completed by early spring, 1897. Originally the building housed both offices and a waiting area for relatives of those being buried. The interior first floor contains a two-story high great room with an inlaid oak wood ceiling, walls of beige roman bricks, and a single high inner working office room, originally with plastered walls, but now paneled with an acoustical drop ceiling. Over the Great Room, which serves as a waiting/meeting/conference/arrangement room, is an attic. Over the office area, is a record storage room near the open, circular, corner tower. A full basement is underground. Initial lighting was apparently done with gas fixtures and eventually replaced by electricity. Heating was supplemented with three fireplaces. Three entrances off the triple-sided porch have now been reduced to the one facing west. On some occasions a trumpeter would stand on the floor of the outside tower and play the trumpet. On Memorial Day Taps were played.

The offices were opened by spring 1897, and the first Trustee Meeting in the new Administration Building was held on Monday, 6/28/1897. Among the sixteen trustees present at that meeting were such prominent persons as Vice-President Samuel Sessions (Lamson & Sessions), Frederick Pelton (Cleveland Mayor 1871-1873), Leonard Schlather (Brewery Owner) and Robert Wallace (Executive with American Shipbuilding and Masonic Leader). 

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Since 1947 we have represented Case-Western Reserve University in the burial of the cremated remains of persons who have donated their bodies to the Medical School.

Each Spring, a private Memorial Service for surviving family and friends is held at their Lot, overlooking our beautiful valley sections, to remember and honor those persons interred there who “gave in death for those in life”.

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