Project to mirror architect/conservationist’s style
By KELLY DE LA ROCHA
NISKAYUNA — A mausoleum in the style of famed local architect and conservationist Paul Schaefer is slated to be built in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery next summer.
The Niskayuna Town Board approved the proposal at its meeting Tuesday night.
Designed by Griffith Dardanelli Architects PC of Schenectady, the structure will look a lot like an Adirondack lodge. Logs will be used in interior and exterior detailing, and crypts will be faced in rough-cut green-gray granite. The building will have a soaring vaulted ceiling and expansive windows. Wood carvings with nature themes will be displayed above six stone accents structured like fireplace hearths. Beneath each “hearth” will be a Bible passage relating faith to nature.
The mausoleum’s exterior will be faced with a combination of stone and cement board siding, which has the look of wood. The 6,600-square-foot structure will be visible from Route 7.
Schaefer, who died in 1996 at age 87, was known for designing rustic buildings that blend well with the natural environment. He designed and built several hundred homes in the area, including his own — a stone structure on St. David’s Lane now owned by Union College.
Karl Griffith, project architect for the mausoleum, described Schaefer’s style as “a combination of Dutch colonial and Adirondack rustic.”
“A lot of people in this area have ties to the Adirondacks,” said Maureen McGuinness, family service manager for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries. “Thinking of the Adirondacks, thinking of Niskayuna, a Paul Schaefer-inspired building seemed to make sense, especially since it’s going to be on one of the main thoroughfares in town.”
Niskayuna Town Board member Denise Murphy McGraw said the building will enhance what is considered a valuable green space.
“While it sounds sort of offbeat, this has become a very special place for us, a real destination,” she said. “We have a lot of folks in town who run through here, seniors who walk through here, not just visiting someone, but really just walking here, because it’s a beautiful, quiet place.”
The mausoleum will be built to the right of the cemetery’s entrance, on a grassy expanse in front of a brick building that was once the caretaker’s home. It’s the only place left in the 90-year-old cemetery where a mausoleum can be built. All other open space is reserved for other uses, McGuinness said.
Two public hearings have been held about the proposed mausoleum, and no opposition has been voiced, said McGraw, who has championed the project since discussion about it began with the town less than a year ago.
The cemetery already has three mausoleums. The first two, which are full to capacity, were built in 1987. The third, opened in 2000, is nearing capacity.
The mausoleum will include 992 crypt spaces for caskets and 704 interior and exterior niche spaces for cremated remains.
The purchase price for a crypt or niche space will depend on how much it costs to build the mausoleum — something that has yet to be established.
In the mausoleum currently in use at the cemetery, the average price for a crypt space that fits two caskets — the most popular option, according to McGuinness — is $8,900. The price varies depending on the type of crypt and its location.
Niche space, for cremated remains, is $825 for a single urn.
This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.