Many Honor Hearts, History

Article excerpt

Byline: OREGON'S SESQUICENTENNIAL By Joe Mosley The Register-Guard

On a day of hearts and flowers, there were those who also found time for log cabins and marble crypts.

Love and history.

Valentine's Day and 150 years of statehood.

"We live so close, we walk through the cemetery all the time," Nick Porter said after a tour through the Hope Abbey Mausoleum in southeast Eugene's Masonic Cemetery on Saturday with his wife, children and visiting relatives.

"We knew we needed to come in here and check it out," Porter said. "It's a special place."

The cemetery hosted an open house at the mausoleum on Saturday, in honor of the sesquicentennial birthday it just happens to share with the state of Oregon.

"The cemetery was founded the same year (as the state)," said Alex McBirney, who served as a guide and spokesperson during part of Saturday's observance. "And (Eugene) Skinner is buried here. So they all fit together."

The mausoleum and cemetery had fallen on hard times until a private association took over maintenance in 1994 from the Eugene Masonic Lodge No. 11, said Mc Birney, a lodge member who serves as a liaison with the cemetery association.

Saturday's sesquicentennial celebration - with cake, cookies and other refreshments - was part of an ongoing coming-out party for the spruced-up mausoleum, he said.

"The place had the appearance that nobody cared for it," McBirney said, adding that some fraternities are rumored to have broken into the mausoleum in past years, as a hazing ritual for their pledges.

"We've put so far about $100,000 into the mausoleum," McBirney said. "It's a long, slow process."

Across the river at Dorris Ranch, the Willamalane Park and Recreation District had its own celebration of statehood in a replica of a pioneer log cabin that has been built behind the park's Tomseth House. …