Historic Ferncliff Cemetery and Arboretum Master Plan

Landscape Architecture & Community Planning - Planning & Analysis Projects

Project Narrative

The landscape architect led the master plan team for Springfield’s historic Ferncliff Cemetery and Arboretum, a 270 acre rural garden cemetery founded in 1863.
Burial has changed dramatically toward cremation. This master plan guides next steps of fiscal strategy and physical improvements to meet future community needs. The Springfield community was intensively engaged through the Ferncliff Cemetery Board, steering committee and Springfield Cemetery Association. Fiscal analysis included assessment of community needs, market forces, existing services, regional competition, revenue projections, protection of perpetual care fund, and cemetery best practices. Team members created a 50-year vision for burial needs, projected future capacity and addressed fiscal changes that will guide cemetery leadership. The team assessed issues including cemetery history, native plantings, building uses, existing facility adaptations, new access, opportunity sites for burial, new buildings, arboretum expansion, utilizing the cemeteries natural features and links to the Springfield Conservancy’s greensward trails. Incorporating the cemetery history with today’s community input will provide direction to the features and design of the Master Plan.
• Reconnect the main entry to its historic setting of Buck Creek and its’ fern covered cliffs.
• Convert west lawn into a native prairie-pollinator habitat that can accommodate green and traditional burial.
• Relocate maintenance facility to the west to allow burial infill in current location.
• Create a beautiful cremation burial “Celestial Garden” focusing upon the sky and dramatic views to the Buck Creek valley.
• Create a new Events Center-Committal Structure for cemetery and community use.
• Add native arboretum plantings.
• And practical improvements to entry, maintenance and administration.

Cemeteries are gardens for the living. This sustainable plan provides a guide for the next 200+ years of Springfield’s history.


Project Details

Submission Category

Landscape Architecture & Community Planning - Planning & Analysis Projects

Date of Completion

December, 2021

Submitting Firm Name

Meisner + Associates / Land Vision

Project Team

Landscape Architect

Gary W. Meisner, FASLA


KZF Design


LF Sloane