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Columbarium taking shape at Halifax Memorial Gardens

Construction of South Boston’s first columbarium is proceeding, with the latest addition a granite structure designed to hold 48 niches for cremated remains.

The columbarium also has a total of 90 in-ground niches for a total of 138 repositories.  

A gazebo is already in place with plans for a fountain on the grounds of the columbarium to be located near the Tabernacle Trail entrance to Halifax Memorial Gardens.

The columbarium, a structure containing vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns, is designed to accommodate the increasing number of requests for cremation.

Construction of a columbarium was one of several strategic two-year goals approved by South Boston Town council at its most recent retreat.

Grading has been completed as has a stamped concrete and brick walkway.

Considering the cost of conventional funerals and the space needed for burial plots, an increasing number of families are looking at cremation as a reasonable alternative for memorializing loved ones.

In response to increased demand for cremations and with an eye toward limited space in South Boston’s three cemeteries, town council and its current issues committee studied a proposal last June during one of its work sessions for construction of a columbarium at Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

The issue was discussed at council’s retreat in August 2010, where town staff informed council that at the current rate of interments in the combined cemeteries (Oak Ridge, Memorial Gardens, Rose Garden) and by development of any usable space at Memorial Gardens, space should last approximately 25 years.

Town staff, local funeral homes and a local monument company had been discussing for several years the timing and location of a columbarium into which an urn or urns containing cremated remains of deceased persons is placed for permanent interment.

At that time, town staff said consideration also could be given to a completely new site for a future cemetery.

Council studied an artist’s rendition of the columbarium at its June 2011 work session.

Noting the growing use of cremation as a way of interring deceased individuals, Powell Funeral Home, Brooks Funeral Home and Jeffress Funeral Home all registered letters of support for the project.

At that meeting, Public Works Director Alan Auld said the columbarium could be designed with room for expansion, with a suggested cost of $350 apiece for ground burial chambers and $1,000 each for burial chambers on an upright wall, with each niche taking two urns, possibly for a husband and wife, Auld explained.

“We really believe we can do it for $50,000 and perhaps get $200,000 in return,” Auld said.

Niches would possibly have concrete frames with bronze doors, with the doors removed and engraved when purchased, according to Auld.