Grave New World

Her digs are across from a cemetery, but the peaceful environs give her serenity
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Grave New World
Darkness hovers at the cheery edges of October’s football pageantry and brilliant skies, which is why we content ourselves with hearty beers, Halloween treats, and autumn travel Photograph by David Lewinski

Lynda Schrenk sees dead people.

She sees them every morning through her bedroom window and from her dining room when she entertains at her 1930s English-cottage-style home.

It’s a vista that comes with living beside Birmingham’s historic Greenwood Cemetery. “It’s so peaceful; I love it,” she says. “It’s nice and open, and I don’t have neighbors. It feels like an estate to me, like an extension of my property.” As a Realtor for Hall & Hunter, Schrenk knows all about location. And here’s what she says about the advantages of hers: “I like all the architectural details of the tombstones and the animals — coyote, fox, and interesting birds flying around.”

She and her family ride their bicycles through Greenwood, meandering among the markers bearing significant names, including Polly and Cynthia Utter, a Bloomfield Township mother and daughter who were murdered in 1825, and for whom the cemetery land was first dedicated. William K. McElhone, Birmingham Historical Museum director, says Greenwood’s dead tell many interesting tales, which are detailed during the Annual Fall Pioneer Tour of the cemetery (on Oct. 18 this year).

Greenwood is the final resting place of sculptor Marshall Fredericks; the Navin family, who owned the Detroit Tigers; Mary Chase Perry Stratton, co-founder of Pewabic Pottery; local veterans of the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and American Revolutionary War; and Cranbrook founders Eleanor and George Booth, who have Greenwood’s largest family plot.

Schrenk says that when most first-time visitors to her home see the “quiet neighbors” they typically say, “You have such a nice view.”

That daily view of mortality is a visual reminder that “there’s no need to be afraid,” Schrenk says, “that death is OK.”

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