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Following eight months of planning, surveying, and designing construction of the new Terrace on the Garden of 23rd Psalm began today in earnest. This follows the preliminary in-house demo work that took place at the site during the months of May and June.

Landform Team of Fairfield is heading up the construction of this new “cremation campus” and today’s first order of business was pouring a new footer against the rip-rap wall that protects the shoreline of Arlington Lake. However, as the construction builds out away from the lake, the renovated terrace will begin to reflect a different look as an entirely new surface of permeable pavers will be installed. When completed, the terrace will feature new benches and a cabled railing system to provide comfortable seating and an unencumbered view of the lake.

The granite statuary, symbolic of a Bible opened to the 23rd Psalm, has been temporarily removed for cleaning and restoration and is scheduled to be returned to the terrace once the surface is finished. The granite columbarium, designed specifically for the final placement of cremated remains, will be delivered, and placed the week of September 12th and the original piece of art, “Lead the Way” will be installed atop the columbarium the week of September 19th.

We have fielded a couple of questions related to why we are renaming the Garden of the 23rd Psalm and the short answer is that we’re not. The Terrace on 23rd is simply a new featured “cremation campus” located on the Garden of 23rd Psalm. With the rapidly rising rate of cremations, we are designing and redesigning areas for the final placement of cremated remains. The Terrace on 23rd is one step in that direction. We believe that once it’s complete, Arlington visitors will appreciate the new beauty it adds to the park. As always, if there are questions, please feel free to call or contact us via email, and we’ll continue to provide updates as work progresses

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 reflecting 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 1980s, it seemed inconceivable that the then single-digit cremation rate (the total of all deaths resulting from cremation) would soon go supersonic. But by 1999, it had grown to 25%; by 2020, it had ballooned to 56%.  It’s hard to overstate the cremation growth phenomenon but 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 burial ritual.  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 has become 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 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 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 purchasing niches within the columbarium.  If you’re interested or know of someone who might be interested, please contact us at (513) 521-7003.