"This organ is gifted in memory of
Russel and Mary Williams by their
daughter, Marianne Williams Tobias"
"When one drives through the grounds of Crown Hill, one immediately senses that this place truly reflects the long and interesting history of this city. Likewise, one also quickly understands the importance of preserving this landmark to serve our future generations."
Richard D. Wood
The Campaign for Crown Hill
"In Memory of William L. Fortune,
Given by his family, June 14, 2006."
The Crown Hill Heritage Foundation launched The Campaign For Crown Hill in 2003 to preserve the significant historic landmarks at Crown Hill Cemetery, most notably the Gothic Chapel. Originally named the Gothic Vault, this limestone structure was designed by D.A. Bohlen and constructed by Peter Routiers in 1875 at a cost of $38,922.25. It served as a temporary place of entombment for up to 96 remains in the event of delayed burial, and an alternate venue for funeral services in poor weather.
Burial rites for Indiana's Civil War Governor Oliver P. Morton were performed in the Gothic Chapel in 1877; 7,000 people stood outside the Gothic's front door to watch U. S. Vice President Thomas Hendricks be laid to rest just across the road from the Chapel in 1885; in 1916 the interior of the vault was adorned to receive James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier Poet, whose body remained in the Vault for over a year until he was buried on the summit of the Crown in 1917; and in 1977 a final internment service for Eli Lilly was held in the Gothic Chapel.
An award winning, $2,500,000 restoration of the Gothic Chapel was completed in 2006 with the generous support of community-leading individuals, foundations, and companies. A row of street lamps to lead visitors from the Gothic Gates to the Gothic Chapel was installed, as was a Gothic Garden for quiet moments of meditation.
As a venue for events as varied as concerts, lectures, tours, funerals, private meetings, and even weddings, the Gothic Chapel is an integral fixture on the grounds of Crown Hill Cemetery. By facilitating the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation's efforts to restore this landmark, families and friends of Crown Hill have seen to it that this truly unique, Gothic Revival architectural jewel and multi-purpose facility is able to serve those who seek it out for myriad reasons and objectives. Additionally, gifts to The Campaign For Crown Hill honor some of Indianapolis' finest traditions and support an institution truly reflective of the innate character and history of this great community.
Along with its role as a place of remembrance and respect, Crown Hill has a long history as a destination for those who seek it out for its beauty, its treasures, its trees, and its historical record. Families, school children, historians, and scholars from around the world have visited, toured, and studied Crown Hill for generations. As a result, its public truly is the public at large, drawn to it out of diverse interests and for many reasons.
"I hope you will lend your support to the Campaign for Crown Hill," wrote Bart Peterson, Mayor of the City of Indianapolis. "Crown Hill Cemetery is a treasured icon of Indianapolis history. It has served this community for 140 years as a place of peace and remembrance for the families, friends and descendents of those who have made its beautiful landscape their final resting place. It also is a well-visited landmark for students of history, for residents of Central Indiana, and for out-of-town visitors. At Crown Hill one finds the founders of our city, a U.S. President, three U.S. Vice Presidents, creative geniuses from many eras, and countless other civic, cultural, and social leaders.
Yet Crown Hill always has stayed true to its roots as a cemetery for the people. Veterans of nearly every conflict in which our country has fought are buried side by side. Public safety officers who have served our community for generations are honored with a special section surrounding the Heroes of Public Safety Memorial. And Crown Hill, despite its many accolades and honors, continues to view its mission as one of service to the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana.
Your support of Crown Hill is essential for this revered institution to continue its work. It faces fundamental challenges as it seeks to preserve, restore and maintain its architectural treasures and provide for its essential operational and infrastructure needs. Just as city leaders came together more than a century ago to make provisions for Crown Hill, we must do the same today. Crown Hill Cemetery has been entrusted to us."