New gardens, expanded plots planned for future of Bainbridge’s historic cemetery

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Kristin L’esperance and Bryan Bays of TSW Planners presented City Council with three legacy projects during the City Council retreat. The final project they had in store for Bainbridge is to expand Oak City Cemetery.

Oak City Cemetery has long been a historical marker in Bainbridge, and the City felt it was necessary to expand and integrate the historical area into the recently purchased modern addition of the cemetery to create a cohesive look.

In order to create this, TSW Planners designed an integrated garden concept, complete with a sunset chapel and crematorium garden.

L’esperance explained that currently the historical area and the modern addition in the cemetery are a stark difference. She said most of the difference has to do with the tree canopy, because the older section left plot room for trees to grow, but the modern addition left no room for that and took away from the canopy of shade it provides.

This realization made L’esperance question how can the City integrate that garden feel that celebrates history, memory and family.

She created three phases: Phase one, Phase two and future expansion.

L’espernace created an entrance axis that welcomes people in beyond the gates. Upon entering, visitors will notice the garden feel.

The cemetery is divided into zones. Each zone has a slightly different feel, but they all have one garden plot that remains similar.

Traditional burial plots would feature varied sized plots.

One option would be a family plot in a garden block, where family members could plant their own flower and plant features in remembrance.

TSW Planners then created alternative burial and memorial sights. It would feature a woodland scatter garden, where people could place urns, purchase tree rings or make a tree dedication. It would also allow people to go in together and purchase a large garden memorial in remembrance of a family member or friend that they could place there.

The second alternative sight would be a crematorium garden in a grove of evergreens that sits on an axis. Visitors would walk to the garden through an oak tree alee and be greeted by a central sculpture and benches. Pavers would set off the crematorium, where members could place their plot.

They could then visit the commitment ceremony pavilion, which will be a flexible space for varied ceremonies and events. It will have an open lawn and patio, along with a side arbor that can fit 30 people and main pavilion that can host 70 people.

The final space in the newly renovated cemetery would be a sunset chapel that offers a private and sacred space for reflection and closure. Visitors could enter through the entry arbor and be greeted by wildflowers and angel statues. They could then sit on a bench while they watch the infinity edge reflecting pool and remember a life well lived.

When exiting the cemetery, visitors will pass through the city maintained garden, where TSW Planners have suggested a variation of dogwood, southern magnolia, camellia, gardenia, hydrangea, azalea, sago and other native plants.

City Coucil was very pleased with this rendering and happy with the direction it was going. Some of the Council members said they now would like to buy a plot for their entire family.