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Popular Edinburgh cemetery adds space for parking, office

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A 160-year-old cemetery in Edinburgh is growing.

Last week, workers demolished a house sitting on about three-fourths of an acre near the Resthaven Cemetery entrance. The town purchased the land this winter and cleared the house to make way for new parking and a new office.

If Edinburgh can get a little more land, it could build a small chapel for on-site services, cemetery manager John Hoskinson said.

Resthaven Cemetery has about 9,600 graves, and no plots are being added in the expansion. The new office building would replace the current office, which is decades old and requires more maintenance each year, and the additional parking is needed for visitors, Hoskinson said.

The cemetery was developed in the 1850s, and the town began selling plots in the 1870s. The cemetery covers more than 30 acres, straddling the Johnson and Bartholomew county line.

Outside of buying houses near the entrance to make space for a chapel, the cemetery likely won’t grow any larger, Hoskinson said. There’s no more additional land nearby, and the cemetery is bordered by a subdivision to the north, baseball and softball fields to the south, U.S. 31 to the west and Eisenhower Drive to the east.

Resthaven is the most popular cemetery in Edinburgh. Plots are still being sold near U.S. 31, and the town has 6 acres of field on the north side that is empty, Hoffman said. Plots haven’t been sold in that section yet, but there’s enough room for 3,600 graves, Hoskinson said. About 100 people per year are buried in Resthaven, so the cemetery has many more years before it’s full, Hoskinson said.

“Anybody that has ever lived here or is related to somebody here and even people I don’t know where they came from or where they were living elected to be buried here,” Hoffman said.

The town paid $64,500 during the winter to buy the additional land and spent about $1,000 to tear down the old house, Hoffman said. The town used money from a large donation that was left to the cemetery in the 1950s to pay for the land and demolition, he said.

Hoskinson didn’t know how much the parking lot and new office would cost yet because plans haven’t been designed. The projects could be done next year or in 2016, he said. The improvements would be paid for out of the donation fund, he said.

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