Making marks in history

Darin Moriki
Posted 5/31/12

Golden Cemetery is place where locals go to remember their loved ones, and now it is a place that will be known nationally as a place to remember …

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Making marks in history


Golden Cemetery is place where locals go to remember their loved ones, and now it is a place that will be known nationally as a place to remember history.

The city celebrated Golden Cemetery’s placement on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places by hosting the triannual Avenue of Flags commemoration ceremony and an annual Memorial Day Service on May 28.

Steve Glueck, the city’s planning director, said the process started in spring 2010, when the Historic Preservation Board suggested the nomination to the City Council. The city then hired a consultant to compile all of the area’s historical information and prepare a nomination application.

Although the National Register of Historic Places offers limited grant opportunities in connection with designation, Glueck said, the city pursued the nomination to “demonstrate our support for historic preservation.”

According to the 57-page nomination form submitted to the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the 54.6-acre Golden Cemetery was first opened in 1873, nearly 14 years after the city was founded in 1859. Among the cemetery’s 8,000 burial plots that serve as the resting place for many of Golden’s earliest residents, some of the most noteworthy residents include Colorado pioneers and town namesakes George Morrison Sr. and Edward L. Berthod; Golden Transcript founder George West; Gov. John C. Vivian; and Cassie Bernall, a Columbine High School shooting victim.

“As an active burial ground that has been in use for almost 140 years, Golden Cemetery evolved throughout its history,” the nomination form read. “The site was never intended to remain static. Instead, as a city cemetery, the site was designed to accept future interments, and to mature and grow and change as both a burial ground and living landscape.”

The fourth oldest of Colorado’s earliest pioneer cemeteries (the Evans Cemetery in Evans is the oldest by only four years), Golden Cemetery is a place that evolved throughout the city’s history, the nomination form read. When the cemetery was established, the city took advantage of its location to offer visitors a panoramic view of the mountains and plains in a park-like setting. The cemetery itself is subdivided into five sections: the city section, the Veterans’ section, the Masonic section, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows section and the County section. Each area includes a mix of styles from different eras and social classes, ranging from elaborate, custom-made spires, pedestals, obelisks and slant markers to simple stone tablets that were handcrafted by poor families.

The cemetery joins 31 other city buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Astor House Hotel, Calvary Episcopal Church, Colorado National Guard Armory, Colorado Amphitheater and the First Presbyterian Church of Golden.


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