Some may already know that IPC is in the process of expanding our church Columbarium. As context, in the 1970s and '80s members expressed interest in building a Columbarium, but it wasn’t until the devastating fire of the early '90s that the opportunity rose to include niches in the reconstruction effort that followed. So the Columbarium in the McClure Cloister, adjoining the Sanctuary and Parlor, became the first phase of what will soon become a three-phase part of the Church campus.
In the years following the first phase, interest was surprisingly strong, as the majority of niches were sold before the end of that decade. So, a second phase was built beside the Edmonds Chapel in the early 2000s, and now it too is almost full. Consequently, last year Session approved moving forward with building a third phase, which broke ground on February 6. The effort has been led by the Landscape Committee, which serves as a component of the House & Properties Ministry Team. After considering many options, a decision was made to create a new extension just east of the current Columbarium, and bordering the Labyrinth and Prayer Garden.
This new addition is designed as a separate and distinct space, with strong visual connections to adjacent areas. While the walls of the new space are part of an eastward extension of the existing structure, the committee felt some physical separation helps keep the scale of each area appropriately modest, while preserving the integrity of existing niches. And just as the Cloister is different from the second phase, this third area will be unique, all while remaining faithful to the architectural vocabulary that is IPC.
Particular elements include:
- The build-out of 256 additional niches, including 192 double and 64 single niches, a substantial increase from the 168 niches added in the second phase.
- Reconfiguration of the stone walls behind the existing fountain opening the fountain on both sides, establishing a visual connection centered around the existing urn.
- Placement of the entrance facing the Labyrinth, which helps strengthen a cross axis toward another important area of our campus.
- Stone piers on either side of the entrance support large decorative iron lanterns that echo the fixtures at the front of the Sanctuary.
- Opposite the entrance will be a stone bench and limestone arch with decorative ironwork, establishing another visual link back to the sidewalk along Highland Avenue.
- A stone paving design at the center is based on an endless knot pattern, which traditionally symbolized eternity in the early Christian art in the Celtic lands of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- New landscaping and lighting to further weave this new area into the overall fabric of the church campus.
Plans and permitting are complete, and we are targeting completion by early summer. We hope that you will be patient as contractors and artisans, led by Brasfield & Gorrie, work to develop another important area of IPC.
Purchase a niche: A Columbarium Open House will be held on Sunday, April 30, at 10 am in Highland Hall to begin sales for the new niches.
Questions: Contact Patricia Harper