This morning, I’ll be back on WISH-tv to share some highlights of a recent tour of the Crown Hill Cemetery Waiting Station and as a companion, thought you might enjoy 18 fun facts about Crown Hill Cemetery. It’s hard to discern which are widely known–I presume most people know about the national cemetery within; the moving of Civil War soldiers from the previous Greenlawn Cemetery to Crown Hill and general acreage–but feel free to leave a comment if you think we should have put other tidbits in this list!
- The majority of acreage first purchased had been part of a farm owned by a man named Martin Williams who was said to have been the first to grow strawberries in Indianapolis (and to make and sell preserves).
- The Association of Crown Hill was formally organized on September 25, 1863
- Before being renamed “Crown Hill,” the area was commonly known as “Strawberry Hill” (see above). Fruit-bearing and other trees were also farmed there.
- Crown Hill is acknowledged as the highest point in Indianapolis, at up to 200 feet higher than the level of the White River
- First Superintendent of Crown Hill, Frederick W. Chislett (1827-1899) relocated to Indianapolis from Dubuque, Iowa upon the urging of his father and landscape architect, John Chislett. Frederick W. Chislett and family arrived in Indianapolis on December 31, 1863.
- The dedication of Crown Hill took place on June 1, 1864:
DAILY JOURNAL, Wednesday morning, June 1, 1864- the third bit of city news, following an update about Camp Carrington and a Civil War captain’s new assignment: “Conveyances to Crown Hill–To accommodate those wishing to attend the dedicatory exercises of Crown Hill Cemetery to-day, all the available omnibusses have been engaged, and passengers will be carried at 50 cents for the round trip. The omnibusses will leave the Post Office and the Bates House corner, at the hours established, viz: 7 and 9am, 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 PM. Other vehicles will be on the line today, but so far as practicable it is expected that persons will furnish their own conveyances.
- The first person was buried there the day after the dedication(June 2, 1864) and was a woman named Lucy Ann Seaton, wife of Captain John L. Seaton. Her headstone was inscribed: “Dear Lucy, grant that I may meet you in heaven”
- In 1868, Memorial Day was observed for the first time in Indianapolis at Crown Hill Cemetery; it was then also known as “Decoration Day,” and on this occasion, the water company would run canal boats from “the yellow bridge on Michigan Street,” and land “somewhere near Golden Hill.”
- There are three statues within Crown Hill Cemetery that originally graced the Marion County Courthouse
- The “Waiting Station” and Limestone Gateway on the east entrance (along Boulevard Place, at 34th Street) were designed by Adolph Scherrer in 1885; the completion was hastened, with workers putting in double shifts so that the funeral of former Vice-President, Thomas A. Hendricks would be the first to pass through the triple-arched stone gate on November 30, 1885.
- Crown Hill was long known as a popular destination for picnics
- What is now called “The Waiting Station” started life as the Administrative Building for Crown Hill Cemetery
- There are a few dogs buried in Crown Hill plots, alongside former masters.
- The Gothic Chapel was built in 1875 and designed by Diedrich A. Bohlen
- The “Waiting Station” served as offices for Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, now Indiana Landmarks from 1970-1990.
- The basement of the “Waiting Station” is currently home to the Genealogical Society of Marion County and the main floor houses offices for the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation.
- The first entrance used to be on the western border of the cemetery along what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Street
- That original entrance was replaced in 1900 with a limestone gateway designed by local architect, Herbert Foltz. (One of the sacrifices made with the construction of I-65