Riverside Cemetery (Denver, Colorado)

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Riverside Cemetery
The cemetery chapel, c. 1905
Riverside Cemetery (Denver, Colorado) is located in Colorado
Riverside Cemetery (Denver, Colorado)
Riverside Cemetery (Denver, Colorado) is located in the US
Riverside Cemetery (Denver, Colorado)
Location 5201 Brighton Blvd., Denver, Colorado
Coordinates 39°47′39″N 104°57′33″W / 39.79417°N 104.95917°W / 39.79417; -104.95917Coordinates: 39°47′39″N 104°57′33″W / 39.79417°N 104.95917°W / 39.79417; -104.95917
Architect Edbrooke, Frank E.; Lowrie, Harvey C.
Architectural style Romanesque, Bungalow/Craftsman
NRHP reference # 94001253[1]
CSRHP # 5AM.125
Added to NRHP October 28, 1994

Riverside Cemetery, established in 1876, is Denver, Colorado's oldest operating cemetery.[2] More than 67,000 people are buried there, including 1,000 veterans.[3]

Location and operation[edit]

Riverside Cemetery occupies a 77-acre (310,000 m2) site between Brighton Boulevard and the east bank of the South Platte River, approximately 4 miles down stream from downtown Denver, Colorado.[3] The majority of Riverside Cemetery lies within Adams County, Colorado, however the rest of the cemetery, the cemetery's entrance and administration building, are within the City and County of Denver.[4]

Riverside Cemetery originally was the property of the Riverside Cemetery Association from its founding in 1876 until 1900 when the association's assets were transferred to the Fairmount Cemetery Association (presently known as Fairmount Cemetery Company). In late 2000, Fairmount Cemetery Company along with members of the community founded the Fairmount Heritage Foundation to be an educational resource for the community and to protect and preserve the heritage of both the company's properties: Riverside Cemetery and Fairmount Cemetery. The volunteers of this foundation staff the Riverside Cemetery Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays and organize events and preservation projects for the cemeteries.[citation needed]


When first opened, the graveyard's secluded location on the banks of the South Platte River and the surrounding greenery made it a popular choice for wealthy families; the opening of the Burlington Railroad in the 1890s changed this, spurring industrial growth in the neighborhood, and some families chose to have their relatives' remains exhumed and reburied elsewhere. Prominent people continued to be interred there, with ornate headstones to mark their graves; however, the proportion of unmarked graves rose dramatically, as counties from all over the state sent the bodies of their impoverished dead citizens there.[5] Riverside remained the area's most significant cemetery until the mid-20th century, and retains importance for scholars studying in the early history of Denver, as the city kept no systematic death records until 1910.[6] Today, the neighborhood has become a largely industrial area, surrounded by a gas station, smokestacks, train tracks, and an industrial park, a few blocks from Interstate 70.[3] It remains a minor tourist attraction; in 2001, 3,000 people went on walking tours of the site.[2]

The cemetery office, c. 1935

The cemetery's final grave site was assigned in July 2005; the management company, Fairmount Cemetery Inc., indicated that they would not accept further burials after that, because they were losing money on each sale.[7] They have also stopped watering and cut back drastically on services, claiming that their $2.1 million endowment, which generated roughly $62,000 per year in interest, was not enough to water the property and properly maintain all the graves; their records show that they lost $159,000 in 2003. They still employ two groundskeepers to pick up trash, but have had to refuse offers of maintenance help from volunteers due to liability issues. In 2005, Fairmount approached the city government and requested they take over operation of the cemetery; however, the city was forced to decline due to lack of funds. Local residents, concerned by the dying trees and grass and generally poor state of the cemetery, formed a group, Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery, to bring public attention to the issue. They requested the assistance of a Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral whose founders are buried there; Fairmount indicated that they would be willing to transfer the endowment and operations of the cemetery to a group that could provide an additional trust of $1 million to cover operating expenses.[8][9]

Notable burials[edit]

John Evans' grave marker

Being Denver's oldest operating cemetery, Riverside serves as the final resting place for hundreds of local historical figures.[7] With three Medal of Honor recipients (Day, Hasting, and Kelley) buried there, it has the most such recipients of any cemetery in the state.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b Frechette, Zoe (2002-11-22). "Not Forgotten: At Denver's Oldest Cemetery, Orphans at last Gain Recognition". Preservation Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Goldstein, Adam (2007-11-15). "History is buried at Riverside Cemetery". Brighton Standard-Blade. Archived from the original on 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  4. ^ Histopolist. "Riverside Cemetery, Commerce City, Adams County, Colorado, United States". Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Briggs, Bill (2000-07-16). "Brighton Boulevard". Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  6. ^ Hardesty, Donald J.; Barbara J. Little (2000). Assessing Site Significance: A Guide for Archaeologists and Historians. Rowan Altamira. p. 39. ISBN 0-7425-0316-X. 
  7. ^ a b Sheeler, Jim (2005-07-09). "Historic Riverside Cemetery Parcels Out Final Resting Place". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  8. ^ a b c Noel, Tom (2006-10-15). "Pioneer Cemetery Fading". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  9. ^ McGhee, Tom (2007-10-29). "Group hopes to bring new life to cemetery". Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  10. ^ "BELFORD, James B.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  11. ^ Belt, Thomas (2005). The Naturalist in Nicaragua. Cosimo. p. xxii. ISBN 1-59605-217-1. 
  12. ^ "BENNET, Hiram Pitt". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  13. ^ Mackey, Albert G.; Clegg, Robert I. (1929). Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. The Masonic History Company. 
  14. ^ "BROMWELL, Henry P. H.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  15. ^ Noel, Thomas J. (2004). "Brown, 'Aunt' Clara". In David J. Wishart. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-8032-4787-7. 
  16. ^ Monnett, John H. (2004). "Sou, Chin Lin". In David J. Wishart. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. p. 146. ISBN 0-8032-4787-7. 
  17. ^ "WOW Museum: Western Women's Suffrage - Colorado". Theautry.org. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  18. ^ "Colorado Governor John Evans". Colorado State Archives. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  19. ^ Wommack, Linda (1998). From the Grave: A Roadside Guide to Colorado's Pioneer Cemeteries. Caxton Press. pp. 92–97. ISBN 0-87004-386-2. 
  20. ^ "OTERO, Miguel Antonio". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  21. ^ Gang, Man-hui. "국외독립운동시설: 박희병 묘소 (Overseas independence activities: grave of Bak Hui-byeong)" (in Korean). Ministry of Patriots' and Veterans' Affairs, Republic of Korea. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  22. ^ Nam, Gi-tae (2007-10-15). "덴버광역한인회-박희병 지사 묘비 제막식 (Denver metropolitan area Korean association holds grave unveiling ceremony for Bak Hui-byeong)". Korea Daily (in Korean). Retrieved 2007-11-28. [dead link]
  23. ^ "John L. Routt, Governor, Colorado". Colorado State Archives. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  24. ^ Colorado Transcript. 1918-4-18.
  25. ^ Gutierrez, Hector (2006-11-25). "Runners remember victims at Sand Creek". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on October 12, 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Student, Annette L.; Thomas J. Noel (December 13, 2006). Denver's Riverside Cemetery: Where History Lies. Christian Service Network. ISBN 1-59352-227-4. 

External links[edit]