Photo by Annadeene K. Fowler
The Belfast Garden Club will be among those who unveil the newly restored Grove Cemetery Remembrance Garden the club planted to enchance the newly restored vintage chapel in the cemetery.
BELFAST, Maine — The Belfast Garden Club invites the public for a special Open Garden Day to unveil the newly restored chapel in the Grove Cemetery Remembrance Garden 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at Grove Cemetery, 21 Belmont Ave.
Historic cemetery tours will be led by Megan Pinette, president of the Belfast Historical Society at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The event is a special fundraiser for the restoration of historic cemetery features. The $5 admission fee will include refreshments from Carol Gater Catering. Proceeds will be donated to The Cemetery Trustees Capital Fund.
The celebration marks the culmination of a multi-faceted cooperative project between Grove Cemetery, The Belfast Garden Club and The City of Belfast to renovate, update and beautify Grove Cemetery Chapel and surrounding landscape with the goal of reopening the building for use by the public.
The project began in 2003 when the building’s crumbling cellar was replaced with a sturdy and clean concrete slab. “[At that time] it was either keep [the chapel] by getting it fixed up or let it fall into the cellar hole,” cemetery superintendent Steve Boguen remembered. ”There wasn’t a campaign to do it, I took it onto myself to budget the money, and the city council agreed to make it happen.”
Repairs such as a new roof and shingles have followed. In the past year the interior floor was refinished, and wooden pews from the Methodist church on Mill Street were obtained and installed. The original cypress wainscoting and fiberboard walls were resurfaced, and the green and white glass windows were cleaned and repaired. The walls were decorated with framed historic images of the cemetery and city events, courtesy of Belfast Historical Society and Penobscot Marine Museum.
While preserving much of the original look and feel of the building, originally dedicated in 1916, some updating such as the installation of electricity and electric baseboard heat will make the chapel comfortable for services in evenings and cooler times of the year.
Oct. 12 will mark two years to the day after the first plantings were made by the Belfast Garden Club as they worked to implement a tasteful, beautiful and user-friendly landscape to support chapel functions. Hardscaping changes make outdoor services possible and comfortable, including the addition of a raised deck for ceremonies, laying crushed stone around the chapel to assist with easy walking and level seating, and the installation of reclaimed antique planters, a bird bath and stone benches.
Ann Mullen of Belfast Garden Club is the lead gardener of the project. Low lying shrubs that will not block the view of the building include miniature rhododendrons, hostas and creeping bearberry, which have been planted along pathways leading to the new deck and ramp. A shiny-leaved magnolia tree is the centerpiece of a bed directly in front of the chapel. Ringed in stone, it will have brilliant blooms in spring and shimmering lights during the holidays. Pink tulips and other bulbs have been planted for spring color. In addition, more than 20 shade trees have been planted in the chapel area, including oak, black gum, birch and Japanese maple. They are part of the community sponsored “Remembrance Trees” program begun last fall. With the addition of trees and bird bath, Mullen has noticed an increase of small birds in the garden over the past two years.
Superintendent Steve Boguen has more plans for the chapel area. Behind the chapel he is planning and has started to dig a retention pond to bring water away from the chapel area. He is hoping to install a fountain and more trees, and plantings for visitors to wander through as they enjoy the chapel and garden.
One of the last, not-so-recent ceremonies to take place in the chapel was in 1940 for James Dunton, the last Civil War veteran of Waldo County who is buried at Grove Cemetery. The cemetery board of trustees, Boguen and the garden club note that events at the chapel are not limited to funerals.
The group also expressed appreciation for the support offered by the city manager and the city council toward the chapel renovation and garden, without whom this project would not have come to fruition.
Directions: Take Main St. west, up the hill, to Grove Cemetery on right. Park within the cemetery on side access roads.