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1. Who owns Bellefontaine?
Bellefontaine does not have an owner – it is a non-profit, non-denominational cemetery. Our mission is to provide high quality service to people of all faiths; to preserve and protect the history and stories of our families; to protect and enhance the beauty of our landscape; and to ensure that the cemetery is well-cared for, far into the future.
2. Does Bellefontaine still have space available?
Yes, Bellefontaine still has over 100 acres of open land, which means that the cemetery will be available for interment for generations to come. In fact, we have so much land that we are planting some of it in prairie and woodland, which is beautiful to look at, and provides habitat for many birds and animals.
3. Can anyone be buried at Bellefontaine?
Yes, Bellefontaine buries people of all faiths and walks of life – the cemetery was founded to serve all the citizens of St. Louis. In the mid-1800s, many cemeteries in St. Louis were faith based and buried only members of their congregation or others of the same faith. As the population grew exponentially, cemeteries were filling up. Others were sold to developers eager for land in the expanding city. City leaders at the time conceived of Bellefontaine as a cemetery for everyone, large enough that it would have land available for the citizens of the city far into the future, and far enough away from the downtown that there would be no demand from developers for its land.
4. Do Catholics and Jewish people go to Bellefontaine too?
Yes, Bellefontaine has people of many faiths buried in the cemetery. Because of our inter-faith approach, we did not keep records regarding the religion of our families. However, we estimate that that about 2/3 of our families represent a variety of Protestant faiths, with the remainder representing Catholic, Jewish and other faiths.
5. Is Bellefontaine expensive compared to other St. Louis cemeteries?
No, Bellefontaine is very reasonably priced. Many people think that it must be expensive because there are so many famous people buried at Bellefontaine. Our prices start at $550 for a single grave, and increase depending on location in the cemetery. Niches for cremated remains range from $3,500 to $5,700 depending on location and number of inurnments. Bellefontaine is especially reasonably priced given the quality of service and the long-term protection provided by virtue of its large endowment. This endowment grew over time from sales, gifts from families, and careful investing of these resources by cemetery trustees.
6. What kinds of interment options does Bellefontaine offer?
Bellefontaine offers many interment options including traditional burial, as well as cremation options including cremation burial and inurnment in niches in our Hotchkiss Chapel or Lakeside Columbarium. You can see photos, and video tours, of a number of these areas by clicking on the links above. For those who wish to minimize their environmental impact (and often reduce their costs too), unlike many cemeteries we do not require outer burial containers, often called vaults, which surround the casket. And if you wish burial in a simple pine coffin or even a shroud, that is fine with us too. We call this green burial: it is what our forbearers did for hundreds of years.
7. Does Bellefontaine offer green burial options?
As mentioned above, at Bellefontaine you do not need to be embalmed, have an outer burial container, or even a traditional coffin. Old-fashioned pine, wicker or other bio-degradable materials are perfectly acceptable. This is better for the earth, and can also significantly reduce your costs. We will also soon be offering even “greener” options in our woodland or prairie areas, such as in-ground scattering of cremated remains or burials with simple, natural monumentation.
8. Does Bellefontaine have a chapel or place for funeral services?
Yes, Bellefontaine recently restored its 100 year old Hotchkiss Chapel, designed by well-known architects Eames and Young. It is located in the historic center of the cemetery, set on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Families may hold services there either before or after a funeral, and may also use the chapel for a catered reception. The chapel opens onto an outdoor plaza which may be used when the weather is fair. The chapel seats 75.
9. Is it hard to get to Bellefontaine?
It is very easy to get to Bellefontaine Cemetery, which is located right off the West Florissant exit on Route I-70. The cemetery is just minutes from most major suburbs and towns around St. Louis.
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10. I don’t know the area – is it safe?
Because Bellefontaine is very easy to get to, you don’t need to worry about getting lost in neighborhoods that you don’t know. When you exit from I-70 onto West Florissant, the cemetery is right in front of you. The cemetery entrance is about ¾ of a mile along West Florissant, which is a major road, and you are traveling next to the cemetery the entire way. Like many cemeteries, to help its customers feel secure and make sure that they know where they are going, Bellefontaine has a security service just inside the front gates.
11. How do I find my way around in the cemetery?
We try to make wayfaring inside the cemetery as easy as possible. Our office is open 365 days a year from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. We provide maps for all visitors and customers, and our friendly staff are always happy to help you find your way. We have white striping on our roads to identify the main tour route, as indicated on our cemetery maps. When in doubt, simply follow the white line and it will take you back to the cemetery entrance.
12. Does Bellefontaine sell grave markers and monuments, or do I need to buy them somewhere else?
To help our customers who have to make many difficult decisions, often at a time of great stress, Bellefontaine now sells markers and monuments. This is not a separate business: we provide this service only to families who own, or are buying, lots, graves or niches in Bellefontaine. We can help our customers design monuments that reflect the wishes, and personality, of the deceased, no matter how large or small. Our pricing is competitive, and we pay close attention to the quality of materials and workmanship.
13. How does the cemetery support itself?
Bellefontaine is very fortunate to have a large endowment that helps pay for the not insignificant costs of maintaining a 314 acre property that has many buildings and 14 miles of roads. A buyer should always inquire about financial condition when making decisions about purchasing cemetery property: that includes not just resources today, but whether the cemetery will have sufficient resources to support itself when the grounds are full. For more information on the kinds of questions you should ask, link to the following Important Questions You Should Ask.
14. Is Bellefontaine an endowed, or perpetual care cemetery?
Yes. Less than 10% of Missouri cemeteries choose to participate in the Endowed Care Cemetery program, under which cemeteries contribute a portion of each property sale to a separate, government regulated fund that is reserved for future upkeep of the cemetery. Bellefontaine has participated in the program since 1974. In addition, Bellefontaine has a large endowment that provides resources for the care of the cemetery.
15. What is the flower tribute policy for the cemetery?
To preserve the Cemetery’s beauty, the following rules apply regarding floral placements and removals:
• Fresh cut flowers, greens and potted plants are permitted and encouraged through-out the year. These should not exceed one per grave space, and should be placed next to markers or in designated locations.
• Artificial flowers and other decorations are not permitted, and will be removed. American flags honoring veterans are the exception.
• Flower, plant and flag placements will be removed beginning the first of each month, or whenever they become unsightly. Winter wreathes and boughs will be removed beginning February first.
• Flowers and plants in the Hotchkiss Chapel and Lakeside Columbaria are permitted only in designated spaces.
• Glass and ceramic containers are not permitted, and will be removed.
• Planted shrubs, flowers and ground covers are permitted with the approval of the Cemetery.