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Inglewood Park Cemetery a mainstay in the community

Merdies Hayes | 2/13/2013, 5 p.m.

Inglewood Park Cemetery has for 108 years been among the premier venues for interment in Southern California. Today, its Garden of Chimes is the newest completed project and provides additional mausoleum space as well as cremation columbarium, family estates and individual lawn crypts.

When the cemetery opened, funeral processions came from Los Angeles on horse-drawn carts with the first interment made on July 20, 1906. In 1913, for instance, crypt entombment was usually reserved for the well-to-do, so Inglewood Park built Inglewood Mausoleum, the first community mausoleum in California, where many of the original settlers of the Centinela Valley and South Bay region were entombed, as well as a number of Civil War veterans.

During the Great Depression through the 1960s, the Mausoleum of the Golden West became one of Southern California's most elegant facilities with its signature stained-glass depictions of early California. By the 1970s, Manchester Garden Mausoleum would feature the Center Garden Chapel, Four Side Chapels as well as more than two dozen sanctuaries and hallways at ground level and below.

The end of the 1980s saw construction of the park's most ambitious project, the Sunset Mansion Mausoleum, which was designed to provide up to 30,000 interment spaces and is the largest such facility in the nation. Grandview would follow that with both garden mausoleum crypts and lawn crypts. There are a number of historic and modern chapels available for memorial and funeral services for intimate settings or seating for up to 300 mourners.

Inglewood Park Cemetery has on hand an Endowment Care Fund in excess of $25 million. It has performed more interments than any other individual cemetery in Southern California. The not-for-profit facility is fully licensed by the state and is bound by state and federal regulations and the California Health and Safety Code.

Among the services and facilities for bereavement offered are numerous memorials and monuments, family estates, a property listing service, a flower shop and a mortuary/funeral home.

Though more nationally famous cemeteries such as Forest Lawn have been the final resting place of celebrities ranging from Walt Disney to Jimmy Stewart to Michael Jackson, Inglewood Park Cemetery has hosted services for ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, actress Barbara Billingsley ("Leave It to Beaver"), Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, musician Ray Charles, attorney Johnnie Cochran, singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress Betty Grable, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, singer Etta James, musician Billy Preston, actor Cesar Romero (the "Joker" from the Batman TV series), actor Billy "Buckwheat" Thomas ("Our Gang"/"Little Rascals" comedy shorts) and blues guitar great T-Bone Walker.

The website features a gallery for images of the park's chapels, mausoleums and grounds.
Located at 720 E. Florence Ave. in Inglewood, the park is near the Great Western Forum, a little farther south on Prairie Avenue.

For more information, call Inglewood Park Cemetery at (310) 412-6500.