Over the fence ...
A 106-year-old iron fence with stone pillars separates Columbia Cemetery from its neighbor to the west, Grant Elementary School.
Columbia Cemetery and Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School share more than an old iron fence. They both have a long history of community service and education.
Columbia Cemetery had been in operation 90 years when the English Tudor-style Grant Elementary School was built in 1910 at Broadway and Garth Avenue. It was the third elementary school built in Columbia to keep up with the increasing population at the turn of the century. Class sizes at the other two elementary schools, Benton and Lee, were between 50 and 60 pupils.
Several additions have been made over the years to accommodate more students. Land the Columbia Cemetery Association sold to Grant in 1952 was used to build the school's multi-purpose room. Another classroom addition was built in 1962. During construction, and to ease overcrowding, a temporary metal building was built behind the school. This building now houses Grant school’s library. Trailers as classrooms were added on the old cemetery land in the 1970’s and are still in use today as Grant prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
In 2008, a new eco-friendly classroom was built to replace a trailer that burned down the previous winter. The work was done primarily by volunteers and a team of design consultants, material suppliers and contractors led by Nick Peckham of Peckham & Wright Architects.
The old iron fence separating the west side of the cemetery from the school playground was built in 1914, when John A. Stewart, president of Boone Realty Co., created Elmwood Cemetery directly adjacent and to the north of Columbia Cemetery. Stewart was a prominent local citizen who was developing the land farther west into a residential subdivision. The land Grant school occupies also was acquired from Stewart.
In 1916, the Elmwood Cemetery Co. deeded the Elmwood Cemetery land to the Columbia Cemetery Association. The iron fencing was removed around three sides of the cemetery and is now being used as sign posts throughout Columbia Cemetery.
The iron fence that remains is considered a "contributing structure" in Columbia Cemetery's listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It runs the length of Grant school’s playground and is supported with limestone block columns. An opening in the fence between the school and cemetery — the original gate to the Elmwood Cemetery — now allows students and teachers access to the cemetery.
Grant school Principal Beverly Borduin said having access to Columbia Cemetery has allowed the fourth-grade class to walk and view tombstones of notable people in the history of the state of Missouri. The fifth-grade class has been able to witness Civil War history on their yearly scavenger hunt. Because of the small playground, P.E. classes have used the cemetery’s roads for a track, and even the school’s faculty have taken relaxing lunchtime walks through the beautiful park-like setting.
Many Grant school alumni have come back to the cemetery to share their happy memories of going to school next door and playing in Columbia Cemetery. Some have actually bought pre-need gravesites in the cemetery because of its proximity to the school.
We here at Columbia Cemetery invite everyone to come out and visit our beautiful cemetery and enjoy the many opportunities for education and leisure we have available.
Tanja Patton, Superintendent
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Check it out ...
Columbia Cemetery has a new Web site.
We've listened to feedback about ways to improve and have updated nearly every aspect of our Web site. Here are a few of the improvements:
- All new photo gallery
- Updated look and feel
- Updated information about burial services
- Links to local news stories about the cemetery, along with more photos
If it's been a while since your last visit to www.ColumbiaCemetery.org, now would be a good time to check it out again.
Let us know what you think.
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Monumental change ...
Since Columbia Cemetery was founded nearly 190 years ago, we've helped thousands of families find the perfect burial site. Many who come to us also are in need of a monument or grave marker, but until recently we haven't been able to offer much help with that aspect of their funeral arrangements.
Planning for a funeral can be trying enough without being unable to take care of all the details related to a loved one's burial site in one place. So we're pleased to now be able to offer our customers the convenience of purchasing headstones and monuments directly from the cemetery.
For information about the styles and price ranges available, please contact the cemetery's superintendent, Tanja Patton.
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