Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday: The Detroit Crematorium

The Detroit Crematorium during its construction in 1887.
The First Crematorium in the state of Michigan was constructed in Detroit by the Michigan Cremation Association, the founder of which was Dr. Hugo Erichsen. Construction began in 1887 and by December of that year it was ready for use. Mrs. Barbara Schorr, an Ohio resident who desired the cremation of her remains after death, was cremated in the facility on December 10, 1887.

When the Crematorium was built, it contained a small gathering room, columbarium, office (or janitor room) and the basement contained the retorts for cremation. Later, the gathering room was enlarged into a chapel and a columbarium building was constructed on the grounds.

When cremation became more popular in Michigan, the trustees of the Woodmere Cemetery constructed a crematorium and chapel on their grounds in 1913. Though their facility was the more modern of the two, the Detroit Crematorium kept the corner on the market.

The cremation movement in America changed in the mid-1920s and crematories moved from being operated by cremation societies and became business ventures for many cemeteries. Detroit was no exception to this rule. As interest in the cremation association dwindled and interest in acquisition was shown by Woodmere, the Detroit Crematorium merged with the Woodmere facility and its building was razed in 1929. The Woodmere Facility was renamed Woodmere-Detroit Crematorium & Columbarium, and still exists.

The Chapel of the Detroit Crematorium as it appeared circa 1901.

The Detroit Crematorium circa 1920s, just before it was razed.


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