St. Michael’s was founded in 1852 at the time that New York City was exploding. Church graveyards could no longer serve the needs of an ever expanding population. With bridges to the outer boroughs open cemeteries became one of the first to move due to the confinement of Manhattan.
For many years the expansion to the outer districts fulfilled the requirements. When the populations of these areas took off turning farmland into business centers surrounded by populations of workers the City became what it is today. Brooklyn independently would be the fifth largest City in the nation. Queens is the most diversified County in the US. The population of the four outer boroughs exceeds that of Manhattan several times over.
The consequences of this growth caused restriction to cemeteries which had moved to the outer boroughs denying any hope of expansion. The land was no longer available as graveyards. Pushed up to the fences of the cemeteries are commercial or residential areas all competing for land. Though active cemeteries remain in the boroughs most are sold out. Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn has become a point of interest featuring walking tours. Woodlawn in The Bronx has donated architectural drawings of private mausoleums to a renowned College.
St. Michael’s recognizing the reality of limited land determined to build community mausoleums as the means to extend the life of the cemetery. St. Joseph’s currently under construction will be the 10th and largest building ever undertaken. With over 2.600 crypt spaces the size and complexity of the building is daunting. Years of experience by all involved is realizing a community mausoleum that excels exceeding prior buildings.
A recent survey of consumers as reported in the June 2009 American Cemetery magazine found that approximately 2% of those participating expressed a preference for mausoleum entombment. At St. Michael’s that is hardly the facts. Yearly pre need and at need selection of memorial property is dramatically in favor of community mausoleum entombment.
St. Michael’s from the beginning enjoyed strong support for community mausoleums. There were populations of our Clientele which expressed hostility to the concept. It appeared more a generational bias as a barrier. In particular the Greek community famously refused to purchase pre need any memorial property and would never consider above ground entombment.
Contacting the local Greek newspaper I garnered an interview. What was to be a short story grew into a three page spread discussing the power of pre need purchasing and the advantages offered by community mausoleums. Hiring a Greek sales Counselor who understood the benefits of the buildings and training the sales force in what objections they would encounter slowly began to turn the tide. Total sales of memorial property to the Greek population yearly are increasing with selection of above ground entombment by Greeks who rely upon St. Michael’s exceeding 60%.
St. Michael’s is a sales leader specializing in community mausoleum sales. Our Counselors are motivated to sell crypt spaces. We offer a wide variety of choices; courtyards, Chapel areas, interior, semi-private rooms and specialty locations. The Clients have input in finishes when selecting the semi private and specialty locations.
St. Michael’s expects to build and sell memorial property during the next 20 years. Respecting the differences that cultural diversity creates among the peoples of the City of New York we offer a wide range of moralizations. Comprehending our land and therefore time limitations St. Michael’s will continue to build community mausoleums thereby serving the needs of a City population confronting few options conveniently available.