Needed repairs to Walnut Grove Cemetery Caretaker's Cottage aren't as extensive as originally thought

The historic caretaker’s cottage at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Paris will stand and is even back in the pink — well, almost.

Last September, Paris aldermen were presented a bleak report on the future of the cottage, which was built around 1870. The city’s insurance company was concerned that potential structural issues made the cottage unsafe, and uninsurable.

That left the city with a tough choice of demolishing the facility, which for years stood out because of its pink color, or spending what appeared to be significant dollars to make repairs.

The news sparked concern in the community, from the Monroe County Historical Society to individuals who did not want to see a part of the city’s history disappear.

But not long after the news emerged on the condition of the cottage, an anonymous person with experience restoring historical properties emerged to help the city, while people donated money to help with restoration.

After extensive inspections, a plan was reached to restore the cottage. Significantly, what was feared to be a collapsing load-bearing wall turned out not to be the case, eliminating an issue that threatened the future of the building.

Moreover, because the building does not have any public use, the necessary improvements are not as extensive as first thought.

“The city insurer is satisfied with the work that has been done and the previous concerns are one-by-one getting taken care of and marked off of their list,” said Lisa Hollingsworth, Paris City Superintendent. “The uses for the building are limited but with some of the repairs that are being done it will be used for storage and the unique features of the building make it a small landmark for the people who visit the cemetery.”

As the city was getting advice on how to save the building, the community stepped up with money. To date, donations to repair the cottage have hit $4,405. Much of that has come from donors honoring the late Bob Crabtree, who died on March 3.

“However, not all of that was from the Bob Crabtree memorial,” Hollingsworth said. “One of the ladies at the Historical Society donated money toward a stained-glass window.  Her husband worked at the cemetery for years and she donated that in his memory. Another person passed away and his/her memorials were made to the cemetery.  Some of the money donated is from family and friends.”

She said the electrical has been updated inside and going to the building. The roof had some damaged areas and those have been repaired.  One door has been taken down and is being repaired and refinished. 

“The window frames will also be repaired and refinished as well as the trim around the building,” she said. “The cottage will also get a new coat of paint and the multi-paned window on the south side of the building will have stained glass put in it.  With any money that is left over, the city hopes to put a new roof on the building.”

And that new coat of paint? Pink. That’s certain to make many people very happy.