160417_Mora

Mausoleum Row at Mt. Mora Cemetery boasts 21 mausoleums.  At the very top of the row sits Townsend Mausoleum, which will be having work done to its structure soon.

Mount Mora Cemetery attracts hundreds of visitors a year with its impressive mausoleums and groomed landscape, and cemetery workers hope to add to the beauty with some major projects this summer.

Mount Mora Historian Suzanne Lehr said that maintenance tasks are no new thing for the cemetery.

“Every year we do projects to restore and preserve the cemetery,” Lehr said.

She said there will be three major projects done this year. The first will be the cleaning and resealing of the stones in the front gate.

She said the old gate featured a stone archway that eventually fell, which is something they are hoping to prevent for the current gates. The gate project could cost anywhere between $8,000 and $9,000.

Another major undertaking involves repairs to the Townsend Mausoleum. The mausoleum is the center piece of Mausoleum Row — a stretch of road that contains 21 mausoleums — and is the resting place of Robert and Mary Townsend.

Lehr said a multi-thousand dollar project will be completed to repair the steps of the mausoleum and to re-mortar it.

“The roof weighs 24½ tons, it’s a single slab of granite,” Lehr said. “Because of the great weight on the granite walls, the mortar between the granite slabs has oozed out.”

Leher said the cemetery raises funds on its own but sometimes needs outside funding for bigger projects.

“We raise the money by doing tours, living history events and then requesting grants,” Lehr said.

She hasn’t had a response to the grant requests for these projects yet, but said that a lack of outside money won’t stop them from completing the planned tasks.

“We haven’t heard yet, but we do plan to do these projects, one way or another,” Lehr said.

A project that has already been started at Mount Mora involves the creation of a “tree walk.” The walk will be an educational tour of some of Mount Mora’s more unique trees and graves.

Arborist Martha Clark said that Mount Mora contains rare Chestnut and Ginkgo trees, and that they should be showed off.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has gifted the cemetery a Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance grant, which can reimburse a project for up to $10,000.

The cemetery has already cut down dead trees, pruned its living trees and planted new eastern red cedar trees.

Clark said the project is important to the community, especially because the cemetery is in the middle of the city.

“Trees provide so many benefits,” Clark said. “It’s good for the health, it’s good for the environment for ... the air quality.”

Lehr said it’s possible that the project will go over the $10,000 mark, but that the cemetery is prepared for that.

Mount Mora Cemetery was opened in 1851 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Brendan Welch can be reached at brendan.welch@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.

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