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November 9, 2013

Walnut Grove's new monuments hold ashes

(Continued)

Linwood Cemetery in Haverhill is installing a large outdoor columbarium wall with 1,100 niches. It has an indoor space with 50 niches.

Walnut Grove is a nondenominational cemetery that sits along Sylvan Street, across the street from Mill Pond. It features 22 scenic acres with tree-lined roads, meandering brooks and arched stone bridges. Established in 1843, it was modeled after Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, the nation’s first rural cemetery, which was consecrated in 1831.

The rural cemetery movement was a trend away from burying people in disparate family graveyards, churchyards or in small urban lots. Some of those first buried in Walnut Grove were disinterred and moved there, trustees said. There are more than 100 Revolutionary War heroes buried at Walnut Grove, as well as the town’s only Civil War Medal of Honor recipient.

In recent years, some land along Ash Street was sold to a developer for a condominium project, with the money going to help the cemetery’s finances.

However, the columbarium garden was not built because of a space crunch, said Edward “Bud” Holden, president of the trustees. In fact, the cemetery has room for another 5,000 or so grave sites.

Responding to the times, in 1997, the cemetery built its own crematorium. It handles the arrangements for three funeral homes. In 2010, the facility handled 181 cremations, and this year, the cemetery projects it will see 216, Holden said. That’s a jump of 19 percent in four years.

Cremations are accepted now, not only among aging Baby Boomers, but the elderly, Holden said. Being interred in a columbarium can be a less expensive option than a burial, which can cost upwards of $6,500, including the cost of the plot, gravestone and costs to open and close a grave. A niche in Walnut Grove’s columbarium costs $2,500, and each niche holds two urns. The price also includes the inscription on the granite slab that covers the urn.

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