Trustees try to resolve fate of old mausoleum

Deteriorating private building carries remains of 62 people

CANTON (AP) — Trustees in an Ohio township are trying to resolve the fate of a private mausoleum slowly deteriorating as no one cares for the remains of up to 62 people inside.

The century-old building in Nimishillen Township near Canton was built on the grounds of the Union Cemetery Association, but the association says it’s not part of the cemetery.

Township trustees are facing a Catch-22: they can’t use public dollars to maintain the mausoleum, but would have to use tax dollars to knock it down, with little hope of getting the money back.

That’s because finding a mausoleum owner to bill has been difficult, with the legal ownership uncertain.

Jay Barton, secretary / treasurer of the cemetery association, believes the owners are the people who purchased burial compartments inside the mausoleum. But they’re all deceased.

Finding family members of those buried in the building is also difficult, since few visit any more.

“It’s a legal mess that we’re still trying to sort out,” township trustee Todd Bosley told The Repository for a story Sunday.

The goal is to meet with family members of those interred in the mausoleum and others to try to resolve the situation affordably, he said.

Last month, Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Jessica Logothetides told trustees they have the authority under Ohio law to take the building down, but aren’t required to. “Conversely, the township is not authorized to expend public money for ongoing maintenance of this privately owned mausoleum,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, the building is a mess. The interior is visible through holes in rusted metal doors, while part of the roof has collapsed into the structure.

Inside, vines stretch from the broken ceiling to the ground, also covered in vines, where chunks of fallen tile blocks lay broken. Boards resembling pieces of a coffin pulled from a crypt lay on the floor.

The mausoleum’s condition makes it prone to break-ins, with numerous police reports of intruders pulling bodies from crypts and taking body parts.

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