The 140-acre cemetery was founded in 1873, making it the first of its kind in Allen County. Rick Wagar, superintendent of Woodlawn Cemetery, said it’s the aesthetics that sets Woodlawn apart.
“There’s a classification for a historic cemetery,” he explained. “It’s very custom to see the rolling grounds and bigger monuments that are more architectural in design.”
Because of its history and grounds, Woodlawn offers historical tours as well as a “Valley of the Kings” pamphlet for touring the most noteworthy gravesites, which include Sen. Calvin Stewart Brice and several other Lima family names.
Wagar explained that much like with any cemetery, generations of those families keep coming back to be buried on the same grounds as their loved ones.
“You don’t see it as much as you used to, but Lima and northwest Ohio are much more economical compared to a California or the East Coast, places like that. A lot of times when people start to look around, they find out that where they live, those things are extremely expensive, so a lot of them will come back for that reason,” he said. “They also come back simply because Lima is home to them originally.”
The biggest challenge Woodlawn Cemetery has faced is evolving with the increase in cremation. However, the cemetery chose to embrace it and make it a feature of its services.
“We’ve been the frontrunner in the area for creating new cremation memorials,” Wagar said. “Our Serenity Garden area was the first in the area like it. You had to travel quite a ways to find anything similar to it, and we just continue to try to come up with new cremation options to keep things interesting and families interested.”
Serenity Garden includes a small waterfall pond set off by uniquely-shaped memorials. Moving forward, Wagar said the plan for Woodlawn is to keep providing well-maintained grounds suitable for both traditional burial and cremation.
“As cremation grows, so does your availability of your space because cremation doesn’t take up near the same room,” he said. “In 20 years, it’s probably going to be 80% cremation, so we just continue to look for new ways to do that and keep doing that as uniquely as we can to draw people and, at the same time, keep maintenance down and keep costs down doing it.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.