West Hartford’s historic Fairview Cemetery reopens after renovations

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The Fairview Cemetery office building had been closed since 2014.

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The Fairview Cemetery office reopened on October 13, 2017 after extensive renovations.

In 2014, the office was closed when it was discovered that the 90-year-old building had suffered extensive water damage over the years, mainly due to its underground location.

“The office is unique in that the entire lower level of the chapel is built underground,” said William Phibbs, director of capital projects for the City of West Hartford. “Moisture had seeped into the walls and the office had to be emptied. “

“I remember coming back from vacation and being surprised that the whole office had been emptied since the start of this project, which I thought was a simple bathroom remodel,” said Rick DiBella, Director public works land.

The project was put on hiatus for a year, and then the city hired architect Jerry Waters of Collinsville, CT, to design the renovation. Construction began last fall and took about a year.

The lower level has been completely renovated into a modern office space. All new mechanical and electrical equipment was installed, including energy efficient LED interior and exterior lighting, high efficiency heat pump air conditioning and heating system, and ultra low water flow plumbing fixtures. The walls and ceiling were covered with closed cell foam which was selected for its high energy saving index.

New ADA-compliant toilets were also installed.

The building’s stone exterior was chemically cleaned to remove nearly 100 years of contaminants.

“We were able to restore the building to its original luster after removing the build-up of acid rain and tree sap from the masonry,” said Phibbs.

The office entrance has been restored with a new retaining wall, fence, period lighting and landscaping. The stairs have been removed to make the building accessible to people with disabilities.

The steeply pitched roof was completely redone with new 30-year architectural style shingles that mimic the look of slate shingles commonly found in the 1920s.

Maintenance teams can access the building via the garage where all their equipment and vehicles are stored.

“Long ago, the chapel and office were used to prepare bodies for burial and to organize ceremonies. Over time, funeral homes took over these roles and the chapel was closed, ”said Phibbs. “Unfortunately, the chapel remains closed to the public,” he said.

“We hope to renovate the chapel in the future. This project requires a skilled craftsman who is sensitive to historic structures and stained glass restoration, which are hard to find, ”said Phibbs.

Office staff Amanda and Kathy, and grounds maintenance crews Rick, Freddy and Kenny are happy to return to their home operations after nearly three years. Office staff were temporarily moved to City Hall during this period of renovation.

The Fairview Cemetery office is located at 200 Whitman Avenue and is open On Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.. The office maintains records of its nearly 20,000 former residents of West Hartford. Fairview Cemetery is managed by the Department of Public Works. The office can be reached at 860-561-8136.


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