It would take about 20 acres of land to equal the amount of final resting space provided by Holy Sepulchre Cemetery’s new Christ Our Light Mausoleum.
The new multimillion-dollar mausoleum, located near the cemetery entrance on Rochester’s Lake Avenue, has been under construction for more than two years. In August, Holy Sepulchre officials will begin showing the mausoleum to families interested in buying space in the three-floor building.
The edifice will be dedicated during an 8:30 a.m. Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Matthew H. Clark on Sept. 20 in the chapel at the center of the mausoleum.
The 70,000-square-foot building holds 5,341 crypt spaces, many of which can accommodate multiple, full-sized caskets, and 1,200 niches that can hold one or more urns of cremated remains.
The new mausoleum was made necessary by the growing popularity of above-ground entombment and cremation, according to cemetery Executive Director Jim Weisbeck, who noted that Holy Sepulchre already had sold many of the approximately 10,000 crypts and 4,000 niches in the cemetery’s existing Resurrection Garden and All Saints mausoleums.
The design of the new mausoleum takes into account the need for future growth. For example, the building is flanked by empty land earmarked for two future expansions, and at a later date, additional niches may fill several alcoves inside the mausoleum, he said.
As with all real estate, the cost of spaces and niches at the mausoleum will depend on location. Some of the spaces on the lower abbey level, for instance, are more economical than are some of the “prime spots” on the first and second floors, Weisbeck said.
“We have a wide variety of options,” said Jack Drexel, director of operations at Holy Sepulchre.
Among those options are single and double crypts and niches, niches with either opaque or glass fronts, and a few alcoves set aside for single families.
“This is the first time we are offering glass-fronted niches,” Weisbeck said. “We’ll see what people really like.”
Weisbeck said the mausoleum’s large scale is in keeping with the 332-acre cemetery, which is believed to be the largest single cemetery in the state outside of New York and Long Island. Founded in 1871 by the Diocese of Rochester’s first bishop, Bernard J. McQuaid, Holy Sepulchre was established as a unified burial space for area Catholics, but was incorporated separately from the diocese.
Weisbeck predicted that Christ Our Light Mausoleum will become a showpiece of the cemetery.
“You are not going to find any mausoleum like it outside of a major metropolitan area,” he said.
The mausoleum was designed by SWBR Architects and Engineers and was built by LeChase Construction Services. It features men’s and women’s restrooms, an elevator, a radiant-heat flooring system and air conditioning in the chapel.
Many of the building’s walls feature two red-hued Spanish marbles, rosa levante and rojo coralito, and a creamy Italian marble called botticino. The building also features granite, natural stone, brass accents and mahogany, which contrasts with the shine of the polished marble.
Large, clear glass windows look out on the cemetery, Drexel said.
“Even the guys working on the building were commenting on how beautiful the vistas are,” he said.
The large windows also help to bring in natural light to reflect the mausoleum’s name: Christ Our Light, Weisbeck said. The name was developed by staff and adopted upon consultation with several area priests, he added.
“It goes along with the current thinking on death and dying, of resurrection and the light,” Weisbeck said. “We don’t think of gloom and doom (in association with death) as we used to.”