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Mount Auburn Cemetery and its chapel get a new look

A ceremony will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. to mark the completion of renovations and improvements to Mount Auburn Cemetery and the Bigelow Chapel (above).David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Renovations to the Bigelow Chapel and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge are complete after a year of expansions designed to improve cemetery services, a cemetery official said.

The $15 million investment included a renovated crematory that replaced its 20th century predecessor, an additional public, multi-use space with glass walls, and a system of ramps that provides universal access to the addition and the historic chapel.

A glass addition to the chapel allows mourners to look out over the cemetery.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The project began in July 2017 and was officially completed in October, said Bree Harvey, vice president of cemetery and visitor services.

Increasing demand for cremation ultimately pushed cemetery officials to pursue the project, Harvey said. A cremation viewing room with wood-paneled walls, a skylight, and a viewing garden has been added.


“We designed a space that is meant to encourage family participation in the cremation process,” Harvey said Friday in a telephone interview. “Rather than it being purely a functional facility that cremates 1,200 plus individuals a year . . . we made a space that reflects the significant aspects of what that [process] means.”

Glass restoration specialists refurbished the 1845 great rose window over the chapel’s entrance.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

William Rawn Associates and Halvorson Design were hired to design the renovations. The crematory had not been refurbished since the 1970s.

The cemetery will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. to celebrate the project’s completion. The event is free to the public who are welcome to take tours of the revitalized chapel and crematory.

A view of the cemetery from the glass addition.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Katie Camero can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @camerokt_.