Terrace on 23rd
Where Meaningful Memorialization and Natural Beauty Meet
Over the past few months, we’ve discussed the new “cremation campus” at the Garden of the Twenty Third Psalm that will, for identification and location purposes, be known as the Terrace on 23rd. But before discussing this new campus, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on why Arlington is creating this new cremation option to begin with.
It’s becoming more commonly understood that the American public is much more comfortable with cremation as a form of final disposition. The Cremation Association of North America (“CANA”) has been around since 1913 and possesses a spotless record for forecasting the rate of growth of cremation in, as its name implies, North America. Moreover, the statistics for the United States are nothing short of eye-popping. In the early 1980’s, it seemed inconceivable that the then single digit cremation rate (the total of all deaths that result in cremation) would soon go supersonic. But by 1999, it had grown to 25% and by 2020, it had ballooned to 56%. It’s hard to overstate the cremation growth phenomenon but as to why it has caught on is a topic for another day.
Arlington is, and always will be, a place that sanctifies traditional, full body earth burials. It’s almost needless to say because it’s so visually apparent that our gardens have always been designed and developed to care for deceased loved ones in ways that are deeply steeped in the traditional ritual of burial. However, over the past 10 years, we have borne witness to a subtle, and then not so subtle shift in thinking that at least entertains the idea that traditional burial and cremation are at least equal opportunity forms of disposition.
Witnessing something happening is one thing; doing something about it is another matter entirely. Unlike a lot of cemeteries (and funeral homes, for that matter) many of whom neglected the rising tide of cremation, Arlington got busy introducing a mix of new cremation options: the Garden of Roses Niche Banks, The Four Apostles Fountain Niches, built-in niches in the various mausoleum buildings, just to name a few. But perhaps the biggest leap was the establishment of the Whispering Winds Scattering Garden on the north end of the grounds. Its continued growth and recent expansion are nothing less than a reflection of the rising acceptance of cremation. And now the new Terrace On 23rd cremation campus is something new altogether.
The patio situated next to Arlington Lake on the Garden of The Twenty Third Psalm has always been one of the more admired areas on the grounds. The large granite Bible opened to the Twenty Third Psalm is the primary feature but its semi-secluded location and proximity to the lake established it as a place to sit, think and meditate. In recent years, however, it has begun to show its age and the need for a renovation became apparent.
Recognizing its potential, Craig Brown, Arlington’s go-to landscape architect for the past 15 years, was brought in with instructions to design the area retaining its obvious religious theme while blending in additional utilitarian functionality. The result is a “terrace” that incorporates a six-niche high columbarium of 144 niche banks, specifically designed to serve as the final resting place for cremated remains, and crowned with the original artwork of Edwin White, a North Carolina steel fabricating artist. The work, for obvious reasons, is called “Lead the Way.”
One negative residual of the convenience of cremation is that sometimes surviving family members are left wondering how to honor and pay tribute to the life of a loved one. Many years ago, cremation memorialization was woefully insufficient but over time and with the development of cremation campuses, like the “Terrace on 23rd,” that is no longer a problem.
The beauty of this new cremation area will actually be a stunning new landmark on the grounds. Work is set to begin on June 1st, immediately following Memorial Day weekend. Our Grounds Team is already engaged in completing some of the preliminary site preparation while the General Contractor will be Landform of Fairfield. Completion is scheduled for the first week of August. During the pre-construction and construction phases, discounts are available for the purchase of niches within the columbarium. If you’re interested or know of someone who might be interested, please contact us at (513) 521-7003.