Clarendon unveils marker for historic cemetery

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2014 at 12:00 am

Community makes push to restore chapel

Photos by Tom Rivers – Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon town historian, unveils a historical marker this afternoon for Hillside Cemetery, which last year was named to National Register of Historic Places.

Clarendon Town Supervisor Richard Moy said the town supports the effort to restore the chapel, which was built in 1894 from local Medina sandstone.

HOLLEY – A year ago the U.S. Department of Interior gave lofty status to Hillside Cemetery by placing it on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today a historical marker was unveiled to highlight that recognition. A grant from the William Pomeroy Foundation paid the $1,280 cost for the marker.

The Holley and Clarendon community held an open house celebration for the chapel at the cemetery and Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin gave a tour of the chapel and cemetery. Town officials and the Clarendon Historical Society also urged the community to help restore the chapel, which needs a new roof, wooden window frames, some mortar repointing and repainting inside.

The chapel was open for tours today as part of a celebration for the site being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town is seeking a state grant to help with the $225,000 overall project. Town Historian Melissa Ierlan and Clarendon Historical Society member Erin Anheier are leading the effort to restore the chapel. They worked on the grant application and also the National Register nomination.

“The community owes them a big debt of gratitude,” said Richard Moy, Clarendon town supervisor.

Erin Anheier tells the community the chapel and cemetery are a “treasure.”

The town has owned Hillside Cemetery since the Hillside Cemetery Association disbanded about a decade ago. The cemetery is located at the corner of Route 237 and South Holley Road.

The cemetery opened in 1866 and was designed in the 19th century “Rural Cemetery Movement.” That is on the eastern side of the cemetery where the gravesides are dug into the side of the hill.

The 20th century “Lawn Style” approach is seen in the western portion. The cemetery has many beautiful gravestones that are works of art, Anheier said.

“We’re here to celebrate the historic treasure in our midst,” Anheier said when addressing about 50 people today.

Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin leads a tour of Hillside Cemetery. He is pictured with a crowd outside the chapel.

This photo was taken from the inside of the chapel, looking through one of the windows.

The chapel was built in 1894. It remains much like its original state with no alterations inside. However, the roof needs to be replaced and wooden window frames are rotting.

Anheier and Ierlan want the chapel to again be available for funerals. The site also has fine acoustics for concerts. Amy Harris played her flute during a reception this afternoon inside the chapel.

Melissa Ierlan, the town historian, leads a tour of the mortuary chamber, which has room for 48 caskets. The space continues to be used to store some caskets during the winter when the ground is frozen.

This picture was taken looking up from the mortuary chambers to the stairs leading to the main chapel room.

The National Register listing should boost the town’s chances for securing funding for the chapel restoration. The Historical Society and town would like to use the building for community events in the future.

Donations of more than $1,000 will be recognized with a plaque in the restored chapel. Donations can be sent to the Clarendon Historical Society Chapel Fund, P.O. Box 124, Clarendon, NY, 14429.

For more information, call the Town Hall at 585-638-6371 ext. 104 or email

Amy Harris plays her flute during a reception today inside the chapel at Hillside Cemetery.