Events are a major source of funding for our restoration work. In the era of Covid, it meant rethinking how we do things to keep visitors safe. This meant our annual Memorial Day Open House transformed into a “virtual” celebration complete with flags honoring loved ones.
One program that didn’t need tweaking was our movies. Because they are outdoors where spacing is easy, the attendance was terrific! We grew the series from one to seven movies, complete with food trucks and picnicking.
Tales From the Crypt that usually takes place inside the Abbey became a scavenger hunt. Participants were given a map and sent into nearby streets to meet our “residents” in front of their old homes (in small groups that could be properly spaced). The evening was finished off with ghost stories told around a bonfire.
“To what man who passed his boyhood in the middle west during the last quarter of the nineteenth century is the name of Lewis Sells unfamiliar? It was a name which stood to him as a synonym of wonder, pleasure and admiration, for it represented to him the display of all that is interesting and enticing in show life. He was born in Columbus, November 12, 1841, and died in this city, September 5, 1907, in his 66th year.” (Excerpt from an old unidentified newspaper article.)
Although Lewis spent much time on the road, he always claimed Columbus as his home. After his education at Hiram College, he worked in the auctioneering business. In 1871 he turned his attention to show business along with his brothers, Ephraim, Allen and Peter. They began with one tent and a few side-shows. In 1872 they invested $35,000, which represented their lifesavings and all they could borrow. Their first performance was in Columbus in 1872 with receipts of $1,540. It was three years before they had another day’s receipts equal to that opening day in Columbus.
During the winter of the early years the circus was housed on Main St. between Grand and Washington Ave. As the city grew, it was moved to a new home on the banks of the Olentangy River at King Avenue. This area later became known as Sellsville.
In 1882 Allen Sells withdrew from the circus. The three remaining brothers continued with the circus until Ephraim died in 1898 and Peter in 1904. Lewis Sells, the last survivor of the original partnership, soon retired as well and spent the rest of his days in Columbus.
Before his death Lewis sold the circus at auction – half to James A. Bailey and the other half to the Ringling Brothers. Mr. Bailey soon sold his share to the Ringling Brothers as well. Colorful images of the three brothers can be found on the side of the staircase of the main library downtown.
With the help of some of our friends (you!) and matching grant money, we accomplished some major restorations in 2020.
We are elated to report the final stage in the total replacement of the Abbey’s roofs are now complete! Because of the high cost of the flat roof replacement, we expected to have to do the east and west wing in different years. Your generosity along with a Certified Local Government grant (administered by the Ohio History Connection and the Historic Preservation Fund at the Columbus Foundation) allowed us to complete both wings.
For decades, a visit to the 2nd floor revealed badly stained or totally missing plaster ceilings. With the completion of the flat roof, Pymer Plastering, a 4th generation craftsman, replastered all the ceilings on the 2nd floor with a new age product that should do well in the Abbey’s unconditioned environment.
Light Fixture Reinstallation:
We are also starting restoration efforts on the 1st floor. Nothing makes more of a difference than lighting. Our thanks to Jayne Vandenburgh and Andy Patterson for their restoration of the real vintage “cake” style light fixtures and George Lekorenos of Alarm One Security for donating the electrical work.
1st Floor Bronze Doors:
The plywood doors are finally gone! The badly battered and beaten doors have been restored to the best of their ability. Unlike the 2nd floor bronze doors, the 1st floor doors were full of punctures. While the doors now open and lock and have their decorative elements restored, the restorers could not remove the scars from puncture holes. Another future project.
A Landmark Year & Ready To Go Forward
Last year, elected amid the pandemic as the new President of the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association, I was both humbled and terrified. We needed a new president because our lovely leader and founder, Janice Loebbaka, had been injured and needed time to heal. I agreed to be that person. Then to see the Board come together, support each other, and take on the challenge of rethinking programs because of the pandemic was heartwarming and inspiring.
So it is with immense pride that I report that 2020 was an outstanding success! Last year, GLAPA raised a record $23,400!
Ready To Go Forward
This year we’re already working to build on those successes. Field of Flags will again adorn the Abbey lawn on Memorial Day. Education programs will be back. Returning too will be the summer movies, kicking off with To Kill A Mockingbird. Whew!
Make no mistake. There is still much restoration to do, and we’re on it. Our goals for 2021 are to install stair railings to the 2nd floor, restore more windows, and lay a new and expanded driveway to the building.
Help Us Move Forward
We’re ready to make 2021 another Landmark Year! But we need your help. Make a donation – it’s easy. Buy tickets – they’re not expensive. Bring a friend – it helps expand our base. Donate your time – it’s fun, healthy, and oh so rewarding.
To do any or all, go to www.GreenLawnAbbey.org. You can make a one-time donation, set up a modest monthly charge that fits your budget, volunteer or buy tickets. So we have our goals; make one of the above yours. Then we’ll be Ready To Go Forward!
Shawn Kenney, President
For the first time in over 50 years, spaces are available for purchase.
The Green Lawn Abbey board is thrilled to announce that crypts and niches are once again available for purchase. We knew you would want to know. Now is the time to start making plans and share the news with family and friends. Staff are ready for your call!
The Abbey has long been recognized as one of the finest community mausoleums in central Ohio and beyond. Now, for the first time in over 50 years, the Abbey is offering glass-fronted niches, designed to hold personal mementos and/or cremated remains, and marble crypts for full-body interments.
The burial options offered at the Abbey are premium spaces. Call 614-444-1123 or email Info@ohio.memorialproperties.com about options and to secure your space today!
Where Life is Celebrated
Mausoleums, like cemeteries, are a touch stone for future generations to honor and learn about the individuals interred there. Green Lawn Abbey is unparalleled for that experience. Inside the Abbey, visitors are emersed in quiet elegance and surrounded by art, architecture, and a timeless sense of history. It is an ideal setting for remembrance and life celebration.
Building the Endowment
To ensure long-term financial sustainability, a substantial portion of the Abbey’s sale proceeds will be placed in the Endowment. Restoration and landscaping will continue to be paid for primarily through fund-raising, private donations, program revenue, and grants. The Board’s goal is to build a $5 million endowment. Given the Abbey’s capacity for niches and available crypts, that number is attainable.
Partnerships & Collaborations
We are also closely collaborating with Green Lawn Cemetery. Instead of competing, the Abbey and Green Lawn Cemetery share Family Services staff and work together to offer a full array of burial options. As devoted keepers of history, it’s a match made in heaven…
To my beloved parents Christ & Marie Lekorenos
She was my babysitter but I went to her house well into my teens. Her name was Elma but we all knew her as Spracky. She had a wonderful heart, and a no nonsense approach in keeping me in line. Just what I needed. I am forever grateful that she was a part of my life. (Seated on the left)
Thank You Dad, this year’s memorial won’t be the Same , but I am With You in Spirit.
I Love You….
Pat Lewis passed away almost three years ago. Most people know her from her 42 years of work with Victorian Village, but she also was involved with Green Lawn Abbey. Pat was chosen to serve as the guardian for my only child, Lisa if anything happened to my husband or me. She immediately became so devoted to Lisa and didn’t miss important life events when even many were out of town. Pat spent a great deal of time showing our family around her neighborhood as it was a sense of great pride for her. The photo was taken at the North Market in Columbus (left to right: Lisa, Sherry, Pat, and Ava [Lisa’s daughter] in the stroller who Pat was crazy about too. Ava got a little brother, Kent, who Pat never got to meet but who was at her “Celebration of Life” as a newborn. Pat had a very quiet demeanor but laughed so hard she’d tear up on a regular basis. We miss Pat more than we can express. Every child should have the chance to have an “Aunt Pat” to adore them!
My beloved best friend and adopted mother passed in 2015