While we have all heard about Civil War reenactments and seen historical icons brought to life in museums, what about local heroes as their once lively selves standing next to their real graves, talking about their contributions to society? This will be the intriguing scene from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home in celebration of the cemetery’s official designation by the city of Ventura as the county’s first ever-cemetery historic district.
Local historian Cynthia Thompson, who completed the application for the designation, couldn’t be happier about the honor, which was recently approved by Ventura City Council.
“The important thing is, it was designated, because [the designation] protects Ivy Lawn from surrounding development,” she said. “It is now an official landmark; all adjacent development has to be reviewed by the city and held up to a set of historic guidelines.”
Ivy Lawn has “three centuries of influence of architecture, art and the largest collection of historically important people, largest resting place in Ventura County — 50,000 buried there,” she continued.
Thompson noted that the desecration of Cemetery Park in Midtown Ventura will not occur at Ivy Lawn because of the designation. Formerly St. Mary’s Cemetery, when the church did not keep up with yard maintenance, and graffiti and vandalism were a common plight, the city decided to take it over and turn it into a park, as it is known today. More than 3,800 people are still buried at Cemetery Park. The cemetery historic district designation will preserve Ivy Lawn for generations to come.
Ivy Lawn is located in Ventura, west of the Victoria Avenue exit of U.S. Hwy. 101, at 5400 Valentine Road. Entry is $5 per family, couple or group of friends, and can be purchased the day of the event.