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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Abbey at Oak Ridge Cemetery

oak_ridge_abbey_1.jpg Allie and I went traipsing around Oak Ridge Cemetery last Saturday morning. We ended a two and a half hour tour in the Abbey, located just inside the main gate of the cemetery.

It was only the second time I'd been inside, and her first. We were the only living ones in attendance.

It is quite an awesome place. This is primo real estate. Condos for the dead.

The bright white marble that lines the floor, walls and tomb facades, gives great contrast to the death that lies within. The ceiling is white painted plaster which appears to be in need of some minor repair. The cheerfulness that is evoked by all that white marble can almost make one forget what the place is all about. That is, of course, what lies ahead for all of us. Although, not necessarily in this place. Unless you can afford it. Or, rather, your survivors.

oak_ridge_abbey_2.jpg There are three main galleries that run the length of the building. Above ground graves line each wall and are stacked five high. Most of the spots appeared to be occupied as indicated by the names and dates engraved on the fronts. There were several blank fronts. Vacancies, perhaps.

Running the length of each gallery beneath each grave front is a four inch marble shelf, just big enough to hold an urn of flowers, a small flag, or a poem penned in grief. Very few of the graves had flowers. There were no poems.

Curiously, on each side of the front of the building are small, private, gated rooms.

On either side of the front door are grids of small square markers - about 10 inches by 10 inches. Behind those must be the lodgings for cremated remains. These grids were mottled pale pink and beige marble.

It is a somber place where one doesn't have to be reminded to be quiet. And then, there are those for whom the temptation to laugh and yell loudly in such a place is irrepressible. But, I don't think the dead minded.

Link: Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois (may cause pop-ups)

Posted by Marie at June 13, 2006 12:02 AM


Good stuff, Marie. Love cemeteries. Whether you're in one at midnight on a dare, picnicking at one at midday like I did with my family a few years ago, or just there to pay quiet respect, it's all good. I don't think the dead mind, either.

Posted by: Rob at June 13, 2006 6:16 AM

Thanks, Rob. Cemeteries are great places for exploring and thinking.

Posted by: Marie at June 13, 2006 3:09 PM

Marie...funny you should post this now/last week. I just received the post card reminder for the 150th Anniversary Picnic at ORC (maybe Rob will want to attend--7.16). My brother was involved in the restoration of the Home of the Friendless site in ORC. Is the author of the link here a relative of yours?

Posted by: Marty at June 20, 2006 12:33 PM

Nice post. Have you ever visited the grave of John L. Lewis there? I think its so odd that we have one of the most significant, and most overlooked, figures in American history buried here and almost no one mentions it. I learned about Vachel Lindsay while growing up here, but Lewis is a much more historically significant figure.

Posted by: Will at June 21, 2006 12:29 PM