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Memorial Cemetery

History

 

The Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, located between 6th and 9th Avenues and Fairbanks and Cordova Streets in downtown Anchorage, Alaska was originally established as the Cemetery Reserve by President Woodrow Wilson in Executive Order 2242 of August 31, 1915, coincident with the federal survey of the original Anchorage Townsite. Then with Executive Order 2836 of April 10, 1918, President Wilson directed that burial land be made available, without charge, to the public.

He also ordered that the Cemetery Reserve of the Anchorage Townsite be subdivided to sell up to half of the cemetery land to qualified religious and fraternal organizations. Because of these two provisions, free burial land for the public, and up to 50 percent of the land could be (and now is) owned by private religious and fraternal groups, the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery is one of the most unusual cemeteries in the nation. In 1925-26, patents were issued to private religious and fraternal organizations for 10 of the 20 available tracts.

It is assumed that the original townsite government took responsibility for the operation of the cemetery in the early years. During these days, there was no published policy, structure or active management. Burials were conducted by tractowners and by the township/city at various times of the day and days of the week with little or no coordination or central recording. Grounds-keeping, maintenance, and grave recording were tractowner responsibilities. It wasn't until 1979 that the Municipality of Anchorage was designated as the "managing agency" and renamed the cemetery to its current name, the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. From 1979 until 1991, a city official managed the cemetery as a collateral duty but was not on-site to oversee operations. During this time, several local community leaders and townspeople volunteered their time and efforts to maintain the cemetery as best they could. In 1991, a part-time manager was placed on-site and in 1998 a full-time Cemetery Director was employed to manage all cemetery operations. From the first burial of record of Mr. John B. Parks on July 17, 1915 through to today, there have been over 10,000 burials at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.

Through the years, the cemetery has undergone many changes. In 1951, a portion of the original Cemetery Reserve was conditionally sold to the Alaska Housing Authority for public housing in the form of the Willow Park Apartments. Subsequently, the Willow Park Apartments were razed in 1991 and the land reverted to the Municipality of Anchorage and ultimately back to the Cemetery. This land is now the "New" cemetery grounds and has added 4690 graves to the existing 12,835. In April, 1991, the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery Advisory Commission was formed and acts in an advisory capacity to the Mayor and the Assembly on all matter of policy concerning the Cemetery. On April 26, 1993, the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

PRIVATE TRACTOWNERS

Organizations    Tract  Organizations  Tract 
   

Pioneers of Alaska 

1, 10 and11 Elks 2
Catholic 5 and 6 Masons 9
American Legion 20 Moose 12
   
       

HISTORICAL TIMELINE
  • Mar 1914       Alaska Engineering Commission chartered survey of the Anchorage townsite
  • Aug 1915       President Wilson's Executive Order 2242 set aside the cemetery reserve
  • Apr 1918        Executive Order 2836 contained two provisions:
                           (1) Burial land free to public
                           (2) Sell to private religious/fraternal groups
  • 1925-26         Ten tracts sold as specified above
  • Aug 1951       Cemetery Reserve conditionally sold to Alaska State Housing Authority for Willow  Park Apartments
  • Feb 1975       Declared a Memorial Park and renamed Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Aug 1979       Municipality of Anchorage designated as "managing agency"
  • 1989-91         Willow Park Apartments razed and land reverted back to the Cemetery
  • Apr 1991        Cemetery Advisory Commission established
  • Aug 1991       Wrought iron fence installed around the perimeter of Cemetery
  • Nov 1991       Part-time manager placed on-site
  • Apr 1993        Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
  • Jul 1997         Established Perpetual Care Fund for cemetery groundskeeping maintenance
  • Sep 1998       Full-time manager placed on-site
  • Jan 1999        Internet Website established
  • Jul 2001         Columbarium Wall construction begun
  • Apr 2002        Grave location mapping capability added to the website
  • Feb 2003       Columbarium Wall Opened
  • Aug 2004       Cemetery landscaping project completed
  • Sep 2006       Road resurfacing project completed
  • Oct 2006        Cemetery  irrigation system installed
  • Oct 2008        Well project completed
  • July 2011        First Cemetery Stories Tour presented
  • August 2012  First survey of grounds since 1921
STATISTICS As of January 1, 2013
  • Cemetery area: 22.24 acres
  • (21.05 useable, due to roads, etc.)
  • Old Cemetery: 15.22 acres
  • New Cemetery: 5.83 acres
  • 20 Old Cemetery Tracts (@ 3/4 acre)
  • 2 New Cemetery Tracts (@ 3 acres)
  • Total Grave Sites: 17,525
  • Total Burials/Inurnments: 10,402  
  • Public Tract Grave Sites: 11,336
  • Public Tract Burials: 7,784 
  • Private Tract Grave Sites: 6,189
  • Private Tract Burials: 2,618
  • Columbarium Wall Inurnments:  348
  • Lot Reservations: 1,414 (8%) 
  • Number of Burials/Inurnments in 2012:  185
COLUMBARIUM WALL
  • Single Niches (1 Urn):  1755
  • Companion Niches (Up to 3 Urns):  1872
  • Family Niches (Up to 8 Urns):  234
  • Total Niches:  3861
  • Capacity of Urns:  9243
  • Niches Sold:  346
  • Inurnments:  348
NUMBER OF BURIALS IN EACH TRACT

 

TRACT   NUMBER BURIED 
 Columbarium Wall  348
 Tract 1, 10 & 11 Pioneers   607
 Tract 2 Elks   344
 Tract 3 Public  429
 Tract 4 Public   444
 Tract 5 & 6 Catholic       976
 Tract 7 Public  622
 Tract 8 Public  591
 Tract 9 Masons   261
 Tract 12 Moose 127
 Tract 13 Public  613
  Tract 14 Public   666
 Tract 15 Public  479
 Tract 16 Public  346
 Tract 17 Public  478
 Tract 18 Public  661
 Tract 19 Public Veterans  491
 Tract 20 American Legion  175
 Tract AA Public   778
 Tract BB Public  695
 Tract EE Cremains Public   26
 Tract F1 Infant Public   146
 Tract F2 Child Public  48
 
   
   

    • Memorial Cemetery
    • Cemetery Director: Rob Jones
    • 535 E 9th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501
    • 907 343-6814