Metro is working on plans for new entrances to Lone Fir Cemetery, representative Janet Bebb told the Buckman Community Association last month.
The entrances, on Southeast Morrison Street at 20th and 26th avenues, will go through property recently donated to Metro by Multnomah County. The county had declared the land surplus and originally proposed to sell it for housing development. However, members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery and others protested that the land was an unmarked graveyard for Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. An archeological investigation arranged by Multnomah County commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey confirmed that there are still human remains on the site. The County then agreed to abandon its plans and donate the property to Metro for addition to the cemetery, although the transfer took some time and effort to effect.
Bebb told Buckman that new information suggests the land may hold the remains not only of Chinese immigrants, but of patients of Dr. James C. Hawthorne’s asylum, which operated in the area from 1862 to 1883. Preliminary plans for the entrance call for ways to tell these stories, plus plantings to discourage people from walking over areas where human remains are known to be. The land will also serve as “a park-like open space for the neighborhood, and a formal entry to the cemetery,” Bebb said.