OSWEGO, NY – With the initial stage of renovations now complete, the Page Memorial Chapel at Riverside Cemetery of Oswego will be showcased at a community open house event and celebration onÂ Oct. 3 from 2-4 p.m.
The general public is invited to attend.
The event will provide an opportunity for the community to learn more about the rich history and significance of the Page Memorial Chapel and Riverside Cemetery, as well as details on the renovation project and overall scope of future enhancements at the chapel.
â€œWe hope the open house will draw visitors from throughout the community and broaden awareness of the Page Memorial Chapel and Riverside Cemeteryâ€™s place in our local history,â€ said Adam Gagas, member of Riverside Cemetery Board of Trustees.Â â€œThe chapel is truly a treasure, and its ongoing preservation is foremost to our organization.â€
According to Gagas, people are encouraged to take a self-guided driving tour of Riverside during the open house, and take in some of the cemeteryâ€™s most interesting and important monuments. He also noted the distinctive Tiffany stained glass windows in the chapel will be in full display at the event for people to view.
Founded in 1855, the 176-acre Riverside Cemetery was one of the first cemeteries based on a park-like layout. Burton Arnold Thomas and his son had the idea that cemeteries could be so beautiful that even the living would want to spend time in them.Â Each aspect of the cemetery, including placement and types of trees was designed to create the maximum visual effect, which only three years later was the same thinking behind the construction of New York Cityâ€™s Central Park. Riverside has kept its historically important design intact and earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Among those buried at the Riverside Cemetery are Industrialist Thomas Kingsford, founder of the former Kingsford Starch Factory in Oswego, who is interred with his family at one of twelve circular burial plots at the cemetery.Â In addition, the founder of the Oswego Normal School, now known as the State University College at Oswego, Edwin Austin Sheldon is buried at Riverside, as well as several other notable Oswego families and forefathers.
Constructed in 1906, The Page Memorial Chapel was donated by the children of Alanson Sumner Page and his wife, Elsie Benson Page, as a memorial to their late parents. The cut granite walls of the chapel shape the Gothic revival-style structure at the entranceway of the cemetery.
Alanson Sumner Page was a successful entrepreneur who engaged in many lines of business with many partners over the years.Â After moving to Oswego in 1850 he owned ships, a distillery and a large sawmill in Minetto. By 1870 Page went into business with his brother-in-law and established the Minetto Shade Cloth Factory. This business turned the Pages from prosperous into truly wealthy people.
Mr. Pageâ€™s business success was significant but was only one element of his impact on the Oswego community.Â As Mayor of the City of Oswego from 1869-1872, Page oversaw the planning, financing, construction and completion of todayâ€™s current City Hall, where his name is still proudly displayed on the dedication plaque in the lobby of the building.Â Mr. Page still remains the only person elected four times as Mayor of Oswego.
The Page family donated the money for the construction and decoration of the Chapel, but their association with the building did not end there.Â The family commissioned Tiffany Studios in New York City, to design a complete suite of stained glass windows for the chapel to be built around.Â The windows were not only to commemorate their parents, but also several children who did not survive into adulthood.
The building was established for public use at the cemetery as a place where families could memorialize their loved ones.Â The last known Page Family gift to the chapel was an organ donated in 1957, by the children of Helen Page Johnson.
Riverside Cemetery survives today through donations and burials held throughout the year. The mission of the cemetery is supported by tax-deductible donations from the Friends of Riverside Cemetery.Â This organization seeks to â€œPreserve and promote the physical beauty and financial health of our communityâ€™s historic, independent, non-sectarian cemetery.â€Â For more information or to make a contribution please visit www.riversidecemeteryofoswego.com or call (315) 343-7691.