Our city’s vibrant past came into close contact with its present, as Glendale Cemetery was re-dedicated as part of the cemetery’s 175th anniversary.
Led by a color guard with Civil War re-enactors from the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company G, Living History Association, a procession of mourners followed a beautifully ornate glass-enclosed horse-drawn hearse carrying an authentic coffin from the former “Perkins Square” (on West Exchange Street) to the Glendale gates. At the cemetery, hundreds of residents waited patiently to attend a commemoration event, moderated by Dave Lieberth, local author, historian and former deputy mayor.
“This is a once in a generation event,” said Gregory Bean, president of Friends of Historic Glendale Cemetery.
“Glendale Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 38,000 individuals, many of whom were leaders of Akron over the past 175 years,” said Lieberth, who added that many of the names of those interred at the historic cemetery may be found in the names of Akron’s streets and schools.
The event included music by the Freedom Brass Band, placement of the ceremonial casket, which was draped with an American flag, and featured the story of the cemetery, as told through the original words of Glendale founders, like Col. Simon Perkins, Gen. Alvin Coe Harris and Dr. Jedediah Commins, deftly performed by members of Actors’ Summit Theater.
“We chose this date because of the special meaning it held for America for over a century,” said Bean. “In 1868, the 30th of May – a day of remembrance – was called Decoration Day, until 1971, when Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May.”
The ceremony took place in front of the cemetery’s Civil War Memorial Chapel, which features stone construction and rolled cathedral glass windows. Another significant Glendale landmark loomed behind the crowd that was gathered: the 60-foot bell tower that once tolled for those who have made this living historic cemetery their final resting place. And the nonprofit Friends of Historic Glendale Cemetery plans to raise funds to restore this tower.
“Far too long this bell has stood silent,” said Bean, who called the tower a “beacon of immortality and truth.”
For more information about the cemetery, visit www.glendaleakron.com.