Tuesday June 5, 2012
A white Peony blooms beside the newly renovated and landscaped gravesite of Charles K. Landis, the founder and visionary of this city.
"He was the founder of the city and he deserved better than what was here," said Terry Sherman, superintendent of Siloam Cemetery where Landis was buried in 1900.
The public is invited to a special open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Siloam Cemetery. The event will include tours and a graveside dedication at 1:30 p.m. of the newly remodeled Landis family plot, along with tours of the cemetery and stories about the history of Landis and his family.
Some cemetery employees and local historians plan to dress in 1800's-era costume for the occasion, either as Landis himself or as undertakers of the time period.
Until recently, the Landis grave site was nothing more than headstones with some cedar trees around it. Groundskeeper Luiz Marrero said he noticed about a year ago that the large marker identifying the Landis grave site had become weathered and covered with green mold.
"I took a hose and started to clean it off. That started me thinking that this place needed something better," Marrero said.
A chapel was constructed on the grounds of Siloam Cemetery in 1918, and is located in the center of one of the original sections of the cemetery. The cemetery and the chapel are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Last year, the city celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. That's when Bob Swanson of Vineland began an effort to make Landis' grave a focal point at the cemetery on North Valley Avenue.
"We hope this to be a centerpiece of the cemetery, which it should be," Swanson said last year of the effort.
Swanson convinced business owners in the city to lend a hand in improving the Landis Plot Restoration. They included EP Henry, Kennedy Concrete, Dunn Rite Sand and Gravel, R.E. Cummines, Henry Hanson and South Jersey monuments. Each name is listed on a new sign placed on a wall outside the memorial.