With spring cleanup at Oak Grove Cemetery completed, residents are free to decorate graves again.
The city has two cleanup periods each year at Oak Grove, where DPW workers remove all decorations and flowers from graves.
The spring cleanup period is April 1 to May 1. Residents are asked to remove winter decorations before April 1 or risk having them thrown away.
The fall cleanup period is Oct. 15 through Dec. 1. Not only are summer flowers and decorations removed, but also fallen leaves. So if you decorate a loved-one’s grave this summer, please be advised that your decorations will be removed by DPW personnel in the fall unless you take them away first.
This policy has been in place at Oak Grove Cemetery for many years and is posted on the city’s website and at the entrance to the cemetery.
Oak Grove was established in the 1880s and is located among rolling hills in the north west corner of St. Louis. Veteran’s markers from as early as the Civil War are found throughout the grounds. The older sections of the grounds have many ornate grave markers reflecting the skill and artistry of past generations of sculptures.
Preparations are ongoing to complete water lines, roads, and plotting to open the east lawn for burials. Addition of these four acres will bring the total developed area to about 40 acres. The east lawn was flat to begin with, but the city hauled in dirt from prison construction circa 1999 to create rolling hills that match the rest of the cemetery. “We could bury in here for a hundred years,” said DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott.
The cemetery also contains a mausoleum for folks who don’t want to be buried. Coffins are stored in drawers. There are a few vacancies, but internment in the mausoleum costs more than burial.
One section of the cemetery is filled with “pauper graves,” Abbott said, and records are sketchy. “I have no idea how many there are. They quit burying there because they’d dig and find a box.”
Improvements in the works include new doors for the chapel, new carpet in a year or two and paint and mortar repair on the vault house.
The DPW employs six seasonal workers at the cemetery, and this year’s crew is the same as last year’s except for one new man.
If you have questions, call Mari Anne Ryder at 681-2137 ext. 1. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-4 p.m.