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History of the Riverside Chapel, Crematorium and Office

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History of the Riverside Chapel, Crematorium and Office

 

Riverside Chapel ca 1905

Riverside Chapel ca 1905

In March 1876, several prominent local men got together to establish a private cemetery in Denver as an alternative to the City Cemetery (now Cheeseman Park) which was poorly cared for, and some people considered an eyesore. They wanted a garden type cemetery similar to Mt. Auburn, near Boston, in a park-like setting. In April of that year they bought 160 acres near the south bank of the South Platte River about 4 miles northeast of Denver, and called it “Riverside”.

The first crematory in the United States was built in Pennsylvania in 1876 and interest in cremation continued to grow. In June of 1891 the Board of Riverside discussed building a crematory, but the matter was tabled. In 1897 a group of people who supported cremation approached the new Fairmount Cemetery about building a crematory there. The group organized a meeting in Denver, and the secretary of the Riverside Board attended and presented a proposal to build one at that cemetery. In 1900 Riverside and Fairmount cemeteries were amalgamated, and in October 1903, a contract was let with a builder to construct a combination building near the entrance of Riverside, and close to the nursery (greenhouse) that had been built around 1883. Well-known Denver architect, Frank Edbrooke, designed the building in “Mission Revival Style”. He had earlier designed the Oxford Hotel, Joslin’s Department Store, and the Brown Palace Hotel. The brick building was completed in May, 1904, and contained a chapel, the superintendent’s office, as well as the crematory; the latter was at the time the only one between St. Louis and San Francisco. It contained two chambers, or retorts, so two bodies could be cremated at the same time. The price of cremation was set at $50 for an adult, including an urn, and $25 for a child less than five years of age. The first cremation took place on June 1, 1904, and by 1915 over 1000 cremations had taken place, and many people who wanted to send the remains of a loved one out of state took advantage of this option.

In 1909 two vaults were added, one for cemetery records, and one to contain cremated remains. One is still in use, holding the cemetery records which date back to 1876. In 1925 a neoclassical porte-cochere was built over the entrance to the chapel to protect people entering during inclement weather. It was torn down in the 1960s and was replaced by a hipped roof canopy very similar to the original Edbrooke design. For some time a florist shop and greenhouses were attached to the south side of the building, but they were demolished in 1985. The “Head House” which is still attached to the back of the building was originally a potting shed for the florist shop, but is now used for storage.

The crematory retorts were rebuilt in 1920, and the use of the crematory at Riverside was discontinued around 1981. In 1931 the chapel was redecorated, and a new heating system for the building was installed.

Riverside Cemetery is Denver’s oldest operating cemetery, and was designated as a National Historic District in 1994. It now contains 77 developed acres.                                                                                     

All Rights Reserved                                                                                                    by Tom Morton

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section admin_label=”Section” global_module=”5897″ fullwidth=”off” specialty=”off” transparent_background=”off” background_color=”#d8e0d3″ allow_player_pause=”off” inner_shadow=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” padding_mobile=”off” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” make_equal=”off” use_custom_gutter=”off” gutter_width=”3″][et_pb_row global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” text_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] Established to preserve protect and main the history and educational advantages of Fairmount and Riverside, the Fairmount Heritage Foundation is an important part of the Fairmount family. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_cta global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Call To Action” title=”Support the Fairmount Heritage Foundation” button_url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=4KJWM5WSSLBPL” url_new_window=”on” button_text=”Make A Donation” use_background_color=”off” background_color=”#686761″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”center” header_font_size=”26″ body_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_text_size=”20″ button_border_width=”2″ button_border_radius=”3″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_border_radius_hover=”3″ button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″] [/et_pb_cta][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_cta global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Call To Action” title=”One Year Individual Membership $25″ button_url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=MUSRDPLEVE92A” url_new_window=”on” button_text=”Become A Member” use_background_color=”off” background_color=”#686761″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”center” header_font_size=”26″ body_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_text_size=”20″ button_border_width=”2″ button_border_radius=”3″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_border_radius_hover=”3″ button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″] Includes membership for one Your choice of one of our tours for you and 5 friends ( history /mystery not included [/et_pb_cta][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_cta global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Call To Action” title=”One Year Family Membership $75″ button_url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=AJMMX5TJKT4D6″ url_new_window=”on” button_text=”Become A Member” use_background_color=”off” background_color=”#686761″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”center” header_font_size=”26″ body_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_text_size=”20″ button_border_width=”2″ button_border_radius=”3″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_border_radius_hover=”3″ button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″] Includes the same as an individual membership, but for your entire family. [/et_pb_cta][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_cta global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Call To Action” title=”One Year Premiere Membership $100″ button_url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=Y77TW2C4TUNRW” url_new_window=”on” button_text=”Become A Member” use_background_color=”off” background_color=”#686761″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”center” header_font_size=”26″ body_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_text_size=”20″ button_border_width=”2″ button_border_radius=”3″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_border_radius_hover=”3″ button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″] Includes membership for family

Includes a free copy of history of Riverside cemetery book “Denver’s Riverside Cemetery Where History Lies” by Annett L. Student

Includes your choice of one of our tours for you and 10 friends (history/mystery not included) Includes 10% discount at the Annual Rose sale for up to 4 roses plants [/et_pb_cta][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_contact_form global_parent=”5897″ admin_label=”Contact Form” captcha=”on” email=”jcavoto@fairmountcemetery.net” title=”Become a Volunteer” title_font_size=”26″ form_field_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_text_size=”20″ button_border_width=”2″ button_border_radius=”3″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_border_radius_hover=”3″ button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″] [/et_pb_contact_form][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]