cemetery district | ottumwa , iowa
While not a residential district , the Ottumwa Cemetery is the final resting place of many Ottumwans . Its inclusion on the historic district list includes the original 10-acre plot and four of its distinctive structures .
The cemetery was established in 1857 after the town outgrew the original cemetery closer to the downtown area . The “ new ” cemetery sat at what was the town ’ s edge at the time .
The receiving vault , one of the four structures included in the district ’ s designation , was built in 1857 as well . The facade resembles that of a church — in a High Victorian Gothic design — on the side of one of the cemetery ’ s many hills , with much of the structure extending underneath the hill . Dennis Willhoit , president of the Ottumwa Historic Preservation Society , said the structure was used to store bodies in the winter until the ground was warm enough to be broken for burial . Shortly after that , the romantic design wrought-iron fence was built along the Court Street side of the cemetery .
Then , in 1904 , the cemetery ’ s notable Edgerly Gateway was built at the intersection of Court Street and Park Avenue , in the classical form of a Roman Triumphal arch .
Tucked just inside the unique gateway is a small Gothic-style office / chapel , built in 1906 and dedicated to the
Union soldiers and sailors of the Civil War .
While not part of the cemetery included in the historic district designation , Ottumwa Cemetery is home to one of residents ’ favorite landmarks , the life-size statue of a greyhound dog , which can be seen from Court Street .
According to the 2013 report “ Ottumwa ’ s Historic Treasures ” prepared by the Ottumwa Historic Preservation Commission , the dog on the lot of Thomas J . Nash is modeled after his 4-year-old grandson ’ s dog . When George Jr ., the grandson , died in 1904 , the story is the grief-stricken dog visited the boy ’ s grave every day until he was found dead of a broken heart on the burial spot . Nash had the statue cast as a monument to the dog , and it was placed on his lot at the turn of the century .
The Ottumwa Cemetery is bordered by Court Street , Park Avenue , Jefferson Street , and Vanness Avenue . It was added as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 . The features included in the official district are near the Edgerly Gateway , but many more impressive monuments and structures can be found throughout the entire cemetery .
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