ROCKINGHAM — The new Memory Mausoleum is nearing completion at Richmond County Memorial Park and Mausoleum at 1717 E. Broad Ave. in Rockingham, the first new construction on the cemetery grounds since 2003.
Construction started on Jan. 4 and is slated to be finished in early spring, according to park administrator Joanna Watson.
She said the new structure will hold 224 crypts and 40 cremation niches. The crypts will not be up for sale until the mausoleum is completed in early spring, but those interested can purchase a single, side by side or tandem spot. The tandem crypts are described as one crypt that can hold two caskets, said Watson.
The sole contractor for the Memory Mausoleum is Ingram Construction Co. of Madison, Mississippi. The company was also in charge of building the Peace Mausoleum in 2003 that sits beside the structure now under construction.
The new mausoleum is the fifth at the park. The original 200-crypt structure with a chapel was constructed in 1971. Two smaller mausoleums with 36 crypts each were built in 1988 and 1998, Watson said.
The purpose of the new mausoleum, Watson said is, “Because we’re sold out.”
“If someone wanted to a mausoleum spot today, we wouldn’t be able to accommodate that,” she added.
Watson is carrying on a family tradition at the park. She is the granddaughter of the park’s founder, Joe Sibley, who opened Richmond County Memorial Park in 1951. He sold the park to Carriage Services of Houston, Texas, in 1996.
Chad Woody, of Watson-King Funeral Home, has been the general manager of the park since 2010, and he sees the new structure mainly as an alternative for those in the community who don’t want a ground burial.
“It seems to be a way that people like to have above-ground burials,” said Woody. “What we see is the need. We built one, and we sold everything out. We seem to offer a way for people that have decided that as a good option. We feel like it’s a need for people in the community. We feel like it’s an option. There’s financing, and it’s an available option for people that don’t want ground burial. So to sum it up, we have several other mausoleums, and they’ve sold out so our main thing is to provide this for the people of Richmond County.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson and listen to him at 12:10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on G-104.3 FM.