The Foundation’s initial effort was to improve the landscapes in all three cemeteries by adding trees and shrubs to replace old and damaged specimens. In early 2006, about one hundred trees were planted, with assistance from Trees Columbus, Inc., the City Arborist and volunteer energy provided by United Way Volunteer Center. Planting continues to be a priority, and while there have been a few disappointments, the successes are becoming more obvious.
Special additions of particular trees and shrubs have been made available by individuals and organizations as honor or memorial gifts.
Another early project of the Foundation was developing a brochure of information about these cemeteries and about notable people interred here. The first pamphlet, ‘A Walkabout Guide’, was produced in 2007. An enlarged version called “A Guide to our Legacy’ followed in 2009 and is available at the Columbus Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, the Georgia Welcome Center, the cemeteries office and numerous locations throughout the city.
Columns and Gates
Beginning in 2010, brick columns capped with limestone have been installed at each side of all driveways in the three cemeteries. Gates and fencing complete the settings to offer a welcoming appearance. Funds for the pair of columns at the entrance drive to Riverdale were contributed in memory of Dr. Roland Bird Daniel (1866-1955), who served 31 years as Superintendent of the Columbus School District.
The Riverdale Building was erected in 1915 to provide a chapel and possibly housing for the sexton. Through the years, uses for the structure changed dramatically; most recently, it has served as an office for the Public Service Department’s Chief of Cemetery Services, and storage space for maintenance equipment for all the city’s cemeteries. As soon as the Riverdale-Porterdale Cemetery Foundation was organized, plans began for restoration of the building, insuring more diverse uses for its space. A grant from the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation, plus matching funds raised by the Board and financial assistance from the city, made that hope a reality in 2010-2011. Care was taken to preserve the outward appearance of the building, while thoroughly modernizing the interior to current standards and assuring greater usefulness of the spaces.
Ideas for improvements and enhancements continue to be in discussion, including:
• a volunteer program
• ground penetrating radar for locating unmarked burial areas
• walking trails with information markers at pertinent points
• a camellia garden
• a columbarium wall and garden
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