The abandoned Louisville Crematory and Columbarium is part of Eastern Cemetery, which was shut down in 1989 when a sick discovery was made: that cemetery officials had been secretly burying multiple people in the same grave since the 1920s, and deliberately mishandling cremations as a cost-cutting measure.
In 2005 it was discovered that a walk-in crypt in the cemetery was actually unlocked, and filled with boxes of cremains (cremated human ashes)! Some of these boxes of ashes were labeled with multiple names, and still others simply said "unknown." From a WLKY news story that year:
"It was the burial ground for nearly all of Louisville's prominent 19th-century black leaders and many other dignitaries, but historic Eastern Cemetery has turned into a chilling horror story that only gets stranger as the years go by. It's basically abandoned after the discovery a decade ago that bodies are literally stacked on top of each other -- 48,000 people buried in 16,000 graves ...then a state investigator determined 95 percent of the infant graves here are as shallow as 6 inches deep. Now, we find a crypt on the middle of the property, not locked, containing what appears to be the cremated remains of dozens of people."
A shed in the back is filled with gravestones, some damaged badly. It would seem that no one is now able to determine where these stones are supposed to go. Even before I found out the backstory of these horrors, I've felt palpable vibes of despair - practically cries for help - emanating from this place when I drive by it.
A few years ago, in an article I wrote for the now-defunct Louisville Guide magazine, I interviewed a fellow who was sick and tired of how everyone had abandoned the cemetery. He took it upon himself to start mowing the lawns there, and to attempt to fix the damage done by vandals. I'm not sure if he's still taking on that herculean task, but someone is indeed still mowing it.
Grave desecration is commonplace here. When I drove through there today, I noticed numerous columns and headstones knocked over that had not so before. And I heard a rumor from a reputable journalist friend of mine that there is evidence of some sort of ritual animal sacrifices taking place here recently, whether by some arcane occult weirdos or by stupid goth kids (probably the latter). Four panels of marble have been forcibly removed from the mausoleum and the containers are now empty. Bronze nameplates have also been pried off of other panels. It's truly sickening.
Since Eastern Cemetery is adjacent to Cave Hill Cemetery, whose concertina-wire-lined superwall runs along two sides of the place, doesn't it make sense that it should just be taken over by them? Without some sort of major protections in place, this already tragically damaged cemetery will rapidly be destroyed completely at this rate.
The Crematory and Columbarium has been permanently bricked up, apparently to prevent vandals from gaining access. In so doing, however, they performed a sort of vandalism to the building themselves, by destroying the beautiful ornate entryway which had been the only nice thing about the edifice in the first place.
(Postscript: Very similar atrocities have occurred in Cincinnati's Wesleyan Cemetery... is it something about the dark mojo of the Ohio River that encourages such things?)