Cemeteries serve as the final resting places for our beloved neighbors, friends and families.
But they also do much more, says local author Michele Colopy. Cemeteries serve as museums, parks and classrooms, telling the stories of the communities they serve.
Colopy began researching Akron’s Glendale Cemetery 35 years ago. The result of her work is the definitive history of one of our region’s treasures, titled “Living History, Dying Art: The History of Glendale Cemetery.”
For its January program, Hudson Heritage Association welcomes Colopy, who will present “Glendale Cemetery: History, Art and Symbolism – with a Little Disaster Thrown In.”
Her presentation will be Thursday, January 14, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the program will be virtual, airing on Hudson Community TV (Channel 1021) and HCTV’s online livestream (www.hudson.oh.us/1081/Watch-HCTV-Channels-Online). For those who miss the broadcast on January 14, the program will be rebroadcast and then made available on HCTV’s online archives.
Colopy’s interest in art, sculpture and history drew her to Glendale Cemetery, which was originally called Akron Rural Cemetery when it was founded in 1839. The 88-acre site features curving roads, picturesque landscapes and stunning mausoleums that are modeled after Gothic churches and Egyptian, Greek and Roman temples.
Glendale’s notable residents include Simon Perkins, co-founder of the City of Akron; John Buchtel, founder of Buchtel College (now the University of Akron); F.A. Seiberling, founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.; Eliza Hocking, a survivor of the Titanic disaster; and many others.
Colopy’s presentation will discuss the history, sociology and symbolism of the cemetery.
“Historic and beautiful Glendale is a city within a city,” she said. “It’s also a mirror to our region, reflecting the community it’s served for almost 200 years. Its memorial art symbolizes love, joy sadness and sacrifice.”
Colopy, who lives in Akron, said that while Glendale served as the city’s early park and a safe place for the departed, it was not free from controversy.
“Early on, the cemetery grew easily as the new city prospered but quickly found itself accused of sacrilegious fundraising, part of local politics, body snatching, and the very nearly devastating explosion.
“Cemeteries are central to a community,” she added, “and when disaster strikes, the community connection becomes all important.”
“Hudson Heritage Association is excited to have Michele Colopy presenting at our first program of the new year,” said Chris Bach, HHA’s President. “While many of us have marveled at Glendale Cemetery’s natural beauty and striking memorials, few of us realize the significant connection every historic cemetery has with its community. … This presentation should not be missed.”