Case Studies

Simonson Private Cremation Estate

Project Team



Memorial Park Cemetery

Located nearby a calming, tranquil pond sits a private cremation estate designed as a place of reflection for loved ones that are at rest.

Memorial Park Cemetery located in Grand Forks, ND slotted 10 lots back in 1998, dedicated to above-ground private mausoleums, surrounding their one-acre reflection pond. Adding to the beautiful ambience are mature trees, a walkway around the pond, and three fountains that run throughout the summer months. At the time, the percentage of families selecting cremation was low.

Arch Simonson and his family approached Robin Purcell, Executive Director of Grand Forks Cemetery Association, and expressed a desire to place a private family columbarium by the reflection pond. The Association Board of Directors discussed and approved the family’s request to place a private columbarium in one of the private mausoleum lots.

After receiving approval for the location, Simonson shared his thoughts with Purcell to design a final resting place for current family members as well as future decedents. “I wanted to teach my family that it’s important to plan for the ‘end of life’ and that death involves many things,” said Simonson. Allowing a columbarium large enough to accommodate many niches, but ensuring an elegant but simple look that would last for generations were most important to the family.

“Because of our excellent experiences in working with Coldspring, both through their customer service and quality of their product over the last 20+ years, I recommended that the Simonson family consider having Coldspring manufacture their cremation estate,” said Purcell.

Wanting a closer look at granite colors and ideas for memorialization, Purcell encouraged Simonson to visit Coldspring’s knowledgeable team at their headquarters in Cold Spring, MN to tour the manufacturing plant to see first-hand the quality and design options that can be provided. During this visit, he solidified his decision to go with a domestic, natural stone – Mesabi Black® granite. After seeing columbarium’s on-site, he knew that was the direction that he wanted to take for his family. Back home he sketched out a conceptual design, which was passed on to Coldspring’s design team to draw out in detail.

Purcell knew he could count on Coldspring to design a piece of significance. During the design process, Purcell worked closely with Coldspring to share multiple design ideas, including size and niche-style modifications, with the Simonson family. Purcell and Simonson both appreciated seeing options from fluted sides to straight sides, and different lettering styles on the granite color. A 42-niche private cremation estate received the family’s final approval.

The estate, with an all-over Polish finish, includes 21 niches per side. The Simonson family name is carved in a Roman Shaded font style on the arched roof of both sides of the estate. Unique to this private cremation estate, and added later on in the project, is a Mesabi Black bench placed on each side of the memorial to allow for a place of reflection during visits.

“I am pleased that we were able to help the Simonson family, with the assistance and experience of Coldspring, to create a truly beautiful Private Cremation Estate which will last for many Simonson generations,” said Purcell. Purcell has received positive comments from the community that the estate fits well in the cemetery, and interest from other families to create a similar estate. He encourages families to take time to consider location, construction methods, granite color and design, and number of crypts or niches.

Simonson echoed that though the process from conceptual design to final installation takes time, there are many benefits to a private columbarium for memorialization. “I wanted the columbarium to be there for my family when they needed it,” said Simonson. “I wanted this to be one less thing for our family to worry about at a difficult time.”

Three years in the making, the Simonson family is very happy with the finished product and where it sits overlooking the pond.

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