2009.11.04 The old cemetery mausoleum 2009.11.04

By DAVID GREEN

When I look at the photograph of the old mausoleum at Oak Grove Cemetery, I’m just amazed. It was an enormous structure. It must have been very impressive.

According to the Morenci’s history book, it was built in the south part of the cemetery and many families were interred there and “the visitors rooms were well furnished with sturdy wood chairs and tables.”

Now, it seems like such an odd concept to inter families within the rooms of a large stone building. Nearly everyone ends up under ground, and only a few smaller private mausoleums are standing in Oak Grove.

Most everything I’d ever want to know about Morenci’s mausoleum is included in a front page story from the Observer dated Aug. 14, 1908.

The slogan on the front page of the paper reads “A Good Paper in a Good Town,” and just to keep it friendly with our neighbors to the south, a second slogan reads “On the Line of Two Great States.”

This was quite a few years after the State Line Observer was changed back to the Morenci Observer.

Bob Price loaned this 1908 copy to me and what a gift it was.

There was obviously an effort to make this mausoleum the best around. It was compared to one that was recently dedicated in Shelby, Ohio, and Morenci’s promised to “Eclipse in Splendor and Stability” the Shelby building.

Morenci’s version was built with corrugated and pure white stone to surpass the finest Bedford stone.

And get this:

The water-proof compound used in the cement is another important factor, showing the determination of the builder to give the structure in Oak Grove cemetery the benefit of every improvement and discovery known to cement building.”

In Shelby, there were only three outside supporting columns. In Morenci, there were five and they extended outward twice as far as Shelby.

The entire article seems to give off a “nyaaa, nyaaa, nyaaa” flavor toward Shelby and its new mausoleum.

Much was written about ventilation. Each crypt included two pipes to allow “the gases of the body to escape.” One pipe was for heavy, foul gases that led underground; the other to convey lighter gases up through the roof.

The roof included a beautiful domed arch and skylight. There were copper eaves and flushing, while Shelby used inferior materials.

There was a well-ventilated rest room for ladies and a receiving vault where bodies could be kept for as long as desired before placement in the crypt.

Finally, there was 1,700 square feet of handsome marble interior finish, furnished by the local dealer, Fauver & Marshall.

Beauty and durability, an ornament to Oak Grove cemetery—at least until 1954. Forty-six years after it was constructed, it came down. State officials condemned the building. It was demolished after someone had the task of removing the remains from the crypts and burying them in the ground.

When I read about the marble interior—the very beautiful marble interior—a light, likely fueled by body gases, went off above my head.

I quickly called my father and asked where the marble slabs came from that are used in the back office to set up printing jobs. I knew what he was about to say: From the old mausoleum.

The bodies went into the ground, but a few pieces of the former beauty live on here at the Observer.

  • Front.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.