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Calvary Cemetery Caretaker Building

Calvary Cemetery Caretaker Building (4/27/44)

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-13425

Resurrection Cemetery

In 1845 Catholics established Greenbush Cemetery on the flank of Dead Lake Ridge, a seven story tall hill on the narrow isthmus between Lake Wingra and Monona Bay where St. Mary’s Hospital now stands. Within a decade it became clear the cemetery would soon run out of space.

In 1863 Catholics bought eighteen and 16/100ths heavily timbered, rolling acres, overlooking both Lake Mendota and the Capitol, just north of the new Forest Hill Cemetery, for $170. They named their burial ground Calvary Cemetery and carved it into sections, splitting it between Madison’s German and Irish parishes. The German sections were given Biblical names: Blastus, Abednego, Carmel, Enoch, Callistus and Priscilla, the last a strip two graves wide along the northern boundary of the grounds. The first person buried at Calvary, in 1865, was Dan Hurley, a native of Cork, Ireland.

Each of these “cemeteries within a cemetery” had its own sexton. Ethnic boundaries were strictly observed - before the turn of the century only one Irishman, Farrel O’Bryan, was laid to rest in the German section. Sometime after 1902, the bodies in the Greenbush Cemetery were moved to Calvary (the approximate site is now marked with an historical marker).

Over the years the Catholics bought more land south and west of the original cemetery. About 1923, as Calvary filled, another cemetery - Holy Cross - was created on this additional land. A visible reminder of this cemetery is the iron and concrete Holy Cross gate along Speedway Road, "dedicated to the memory of John Schlimgen and his family." Calvary was operated by St. Raphael’s and St. Patrick’s parishes, and Holy Cross by Holy Redeemer and St. James.

In 1953, Calvary and Holy Cross were consolidated into one cemetery under the name Resurrection. Additional land was purchased along Franklin Street, and the cemetery took its final form.

In 1896 two stone buildings were erected on the cemetery grounds, the office (still standing) and the Lantry mausoleum (removed in May 1997). Prior to 1905 the cemetery keeper lived in a house on the grounds along Speedway, until the land was needed for burial space. The chapel was built in 1966, the Chapel Mausoleum in 1977, the Queen of Heaven and St. Joseph mausoleums in the 1980s, and the St. Andrew Mausoleum in 1992. A recent addition is a small structure called Our Lady of the Lakes, which holds the urns of individuals who have been cremated.

Funeral-related industries have been located on the fringe of Resurrection for nearly a century. DiRienzo Brothers Monuments has occupied the corner of Regent and Highland since 1911; the Frautschi Funeral Home (sold to Cress in 1977) was built along Speedway in 1962. Schlimgen Monuments was once nearby on University Avenue as well.

Mark Gajewski