Sep 7, 2017

New Graveside Tears At Fairview in Allentown

In August of 08, after about a year of blogging on conditions at Fairview, The Morning Call ran the story shown above. I did manage to organize a small meeting between the cemetery operators and the public later that fall. Yesterday I received the following comment, submitted to a posting from that period.

Patti from California has left a new comment on your post "New Graveside Tears":

My family is buried at Fairview and 2 weeks ago I visited and was appalled at the horrible conditions and total lack of maintenance throughout the cemetery. I have been trying to reach Loretta or David most of the summer and was told they had taken an extended trip out of the country. (business must be good) They seem to be back now - but still no way to actually talk to them.

My mother is 97 - plans to be buried there with her parents and my Dad. I could cry at the thought ....

I googled Fairview and was led to your blog. Loretta told me in May I could get our plot maintained if I invested in their endowment for $1000. After seeing the total lack of care there, I feel like I would be throwing the money away. What do other people think or do about this appalling condition?

I feel sorry for this family, Fairview may have been a well maintained place when the father was buried there many years ago. I believe the cemetery is in better condition than it was two years ago, but that's not saying very much. I will occasionally revisit this topic, to at least continue a small noise on behalf of these families.

reprinted from September of 2009

ADDENDUM: Over the years I have published numerous posts about Fairview Cemetery. Today and yesterday, I revisited the cemetery to cast light on a problem; Allentown's orphan cemeteries. Although Fairview isn't really an orphan, it shares the same issues as the West End Cemetery, in center city. Our esteemed mayor took it upon himself to purchase two unnecessary parcels, ostensibly to add to the park system. In addition to their cost, $1.5 million dollars, there will be upkeep expenses by an already underfunded park system. City hall should instead concentrate on these cemeteries, which have been problematic for decades.

reprinted from November of 2016

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 7, 2017: In the picture above I'm shown walking in the small Jewish section of Fairview. Over the last decade, in addition to advocating for the cemetery's upkeep, I've made frequent return visits to keep checking on conditions. Starting about five years ago, I noticed new burials toward the rear of the sprawling cemetery, near Harrison Street. It certainly appeared to me that these new burials were on old family plots, probably no longer visited by any descendants. I mentioned my concern to several people associated with other cemeteries. They seemed to share my suspicion, but did not want to get involved. The new burials have continued, and now appear bordering old family plots even closer to the front of the grounds, near Lehigh Street. The current owner claimed years ago that the plot plan for the cemetery was destroyed in a fire. Let this post serve as public notice of what may well be a new problem at a very old cemetery.


Scott Armstrong said...


I couldn't agree with your conclusion more that the city needs to step up to the plate and turn these old cemeteries into historical walking parks. Private sponsors could be brought in to assist with maintenance. A lot of effort has been made on the west end cemetery and people like Dale Fritchman of Old Allentown deserve a lot of credit. To give credit where credit is due the mayor was actually spotted at some of the volunteer efforts there, no doubt trying to create the illusion he actually cares about the city. (Who knows, perhaps in his fevered mind he may actually believe he does).

michael molovinsky said...

scott@7:34, my interest in fairview began in 2007, searching for a grave in the very small Jewish section. within two years i managed to get the morning call to print a story on the entire cemetery, and thing improved temporarily.

these new burials seem totally improperly located. there appears to be no regulatory authority overseeing cemeteries. hopefully, this post will generate some attention on this new situation.