LYNN – To mark its 100th year, the Pride of Lynn Cemetery is investing $100,000 to renovate its chapel.
The renovation is the first major restoration of the one-room, 1,100-square-foot chapel that has been used sparingly in recent years. “We felt that there was a greater need for the community to utilize this building,” said Alan Gilbert, who serves as president of the cemetery’s nonprofit board.
The one-story brick structure was built in stages in the 1930s and 1940s, according to Bruce Greenwald, the project’s architect. The chapel, which was used before the high holidays as a welcoming center for people visiting their loved ones’ graves, is expected to be fully renovated by the fall. The room, which has a vaulted ceiling, will be fully handicapped accessible and will feature LED lighting and a newly constructed unisex bathroom. In addition, a new roof will be added, along with a new heating and air-conditioning system. Visitors will be able to see 12 stained-glass windows that were previously boarded up. Once completed, the chapel will host funeral services and gatherings to mark unveilings.
“It will be beautiful. I see it as a resource for the community,” explained James Yaffe, the board’s treasurer. “A lot of families have indicated that rather than having the service at a funeral home or at a temple, they’d prefer to have it at the cemetery. And now they’ll have the option to do it.”
One hundred years ago, Eastern European Jews who set down roots in Lynn decided to build a cemetery and chose a plot of land near Wyoma Square. About 6,000 people are buried on the property, and an average of 50 to 75 funerals are held at Pride of Lynn each year. With just two-thirds of the seven-acre property being used, the cemetery has room for another 2,000 plots, Gilbert said.
In recent years, the cemetery has made improvements and policy changes. It took over an adjacent cemetery, Chevra Mishna, and removed a fence that divided the properties. It also created an interfaith section, and the cemetery’s board voted earlier this year to allow the remains of those cremated to be buried on the property. The cemetery also plans to place a new plaque by the cemetery’s Holocaust Memorial. The plaque will include a quote from Genesis: “For you are dust. And to dust you shall return.”
Beverly Edwards, the board’s vice president, said plans are in the works to hold a fundraiser to help sustain the cemetery. “It’s very important to keep this cemetery going,” she said. “My husband and my son are buried here, and my in-laws are here, and I’ll be here.”