A History of Greenwood Cemetery

As Spokane outgrew its frontier beginnings, its old church graveyards were at risk of overflowing, and the small pioneer cemeteries got in the way of land development. In order to solve both issues, A. M. Cannon and other prominent businessmen purchased and donated land west of town for the community's first modern burial site - an elegant garden cemetery.

At the time, the City Beautiful Movement was in full swing, which brought reform in architecture and city planning to communities across the nation, Spokane included. Greenwood Memorial Terrace was strongly influenced by this movement, and can be seen throughout the cemetery's design, especially the first two terraces: the flats and the bench.

The flats are the lowest level and contain the cemetery office, several memorials, and show how cemetery design and headstones have changed over time. For example, there are old-fashioned upright headstones, some very ornate from the rural/garden cemetery era, along with grave markers flush to the ground common with today's lawn/memorial park design. Another feature of the flats is the un-endowed section near the office. Here you will find a more natural setting where the grounds are left mostly unkempt, and the graves range from simple wooden crosses to commemorate a loved one, to small fenced gravesites.

The bench is where many of Spokane's first high society people are buried, such as the A. M. Cannon family, the Amasa B. Campbell family, Mary Latham, and James and Susan Glover to mention a few. It is full of family mausoleums, large family plots or memorials, and obelisks. This level was originally designed to have a large water fountain, though it is unclear whether it ever worked, or was built for that matter. It is also worth noting that the bench was designed to have a great view of the city and mountains beyond, but with time, the view disappeared as the trees grew. Now the top holds the best view.

Speaking of the top, it is laid out primarily in the memorial park fashion, which is designed for ease of maintenance, and is the most modern section of Greenwood. There are several military memorials, a children's section, and multiple columbarium walls which hold cremated remains and/or provide a place for people to visit their departed loved ones. The top is also the site of the giant white cement Cross of Inspiration that was erected in 1961, which is where an interdenominational Easter sunrise service is held each year, along with other events throughout the year.


Greenwood Cemetery - A History
By Julie Y. Russell
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