Memorial Cemetery Terrabarium, Syosset NY

Client: Memorial Cemetery Committee of St. John’s Church

The Memorial Cemetery of St. John’s Church was reaching capacity in their columbarium at a time when an increasing number of parishioners preferred cremation burials. The cemetery bears historical importance as an 1862 Rural Cemetery with 1918 to 1926 Olmsted Brothers additions. Heritage Landscapes was commissioned to develop comprehensive cemetery landscape guidelines, followed by a request to add a columbarium to accommodate 300 to 400 burials over an extended period. Heritage Landscapes innovated to shape a terrabarium, an in-ground cremains solution, that draws on the character-defining features of the Olmsted Brothers landscape design for large family plots. The project harmonizes earthwork, stonework, planting, and access. Our work included:

  • Research and study cemetery evolution and Olmsted Brothers constructed landscapes
  • Innovate for a terrabarium, in ground columbarium, with Olmsted character and style
  • Make efficient use of an open, unplotted area of the cemetery
  • Design a landscape for universal access
  • Create interment areas that do not require heavy machinery for burials
  • Plan for ease of maintenance operations in layout and details

The project required that the Landscape Architects understand the evolution of the cemetery through various expansion periods as well as the cultural and design influences that affected the landscape over the preceding 150+ years.  Acknowledging contemporary burial practices and traditions Heritage Landscapes proposed multiple solutions with the MCSJ community choosing the terrabarium concept.  We prepared concepts through construction documents, oversaw bidding, and construction operations with the MCSJ superintendent to complete this creative project.


St. John's Church Memorial Cemetery Historic Landscape Management Guide, Columbarium Concept Alternatives, Terrabarium design, documents and construction administration


Heritage Landscapes, for Terrabarium collaboration with John Papa, MCSJC Superintendent


"The Nov 1st Terrabarium opening event had a great turnout with lots of enthusiast church members charmed by the completed project."