Forest Hill Cemetry Chapel and Gate Lodge

By Douglas Shepard

Barker Museum Newsletter
Winter 2001

A review or papers contained in two metal boxes removed during summer 2000 clean-out of the barn at Forest Hill Cemetery in Fredonia casts additional light on the plans for and the construction of the chapel and gate lodge, as it was originally called, at the entrance to the cemetery grounds. References are also made in this article to the minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors of the Cemetery Association, and to research on these buildings by Douglas Shepard.

At a special meeting of the Board, held on June 20, 1894, a committee was formed consisting of H.J. Putnam, Treasurer, and J.A. Larder, Superintendent, to engage the services of Mr. W. Scott, landscape gardener, and Mr. E.A. Curtis, architect, "to assist in preparing drawings and specifications for improvements of grounds and buildings and location of fountain." At further meetings on July 25th and October 1st, 1894, Curtis presented plans for buildings and grounds. He proposed to prepare all plans and specifications, superintend the erection of buildings, and perform other duties required by the Board, all for the sum of $250. The Board agreed and approved the plans.

On June 13, 1895, a special meeting was held in Mr. Curtisís office in Fredonia at which a contract for two cemetery buildings was awarded to Mr. Arthur Peters of Dunkirk. The contract price was $10,882.00. This translates to $198,052.00 in 1996 dollars.

Among hundreds of invoices and cancelled checks contained in these boxes appeared an invoice of C.F. White & Co., 57 Main Street, Fredonia, dated July 3, 1895. C.F. White and partners W.R. Morgan and A.R. Hilton published The Advertiser and Union and the Dunkirk Daily Herald. The invoice recorded a charge of $2.00 for a two-week advertisement commencing May 31, 1895, for "Sealed Proposals for Material and Labor." This very likely related to the intended construction of the chapel and gate lodge.

Two certificates signed by E.A. Curtis, one dated August 2, 1895, and one dated September 3, 1895, state that Arthur Peters, Contractor for buildings is entitled to payments as per contract for erection of Chapel and Gate Lodge. The amount of the contract: $10,882.00. Arthur Peters signed the receipts, the first for $1240.00, and the second for $1100.00. Cemetery Association Treasurer H.J. Putnam drew up the receipts. In addition, there is a statement signed by Arthur Peters entitled "Duplicate Receipt." It is dated August 3, 1895, and acknowledges a first payment of $1240.00 on the contract and adds that two hundred dollars was previously paid and is endorsed on the contract. The contract itself has not been found.

Arthur Peters received a total of $11,170.81 in a series of payments commencing August 3, 1895, and ending July 1896. We have the cancelled checks. Adding the $200.00 paid at the time of the contract signing, it appears that the final construction cost of these two very distinctive buildings was about $11,400.00 ($212,000 in modern terms).

The Association Treasurerís annual report, dated July 1, 1896, records that on January 6, 1896, a payment of $88.57 was made to E.A. Curtis. In addition, we have a cancelled check drawn on the Cemetery Assn. account in the Fredonia National Bank, signed by H.J. Putnam, Treasurer, in the amount of $51.47, dated July 16, 1896, made out to E.A. Curtis and endorsed by him on the reverse. We thus have documentation that the architect was paid $140.04 for his services in 1896. Again, translating to 1996 costs, this amounts to $2,605.00.