History of the Boca Raton Cemetery
We welcome you to the Boca Raton Municipal Cemetery and Mausoleum website. The cemetery has a long and unusual history. Prior to 1900, the area now known as Boca Raton was just a collection of farms and produce fields that followed the newly laid tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway.
The railway was the lifeline between Miami and the northern markets. In the very early years of this past century, families or church groups buried their dead close to their homes or on the outer island next to the Boca Raton Inlet.
In 1916, an association was formed and a one-acre site was developed as a cemetery. This one-acre was located on the site of the present Boca Raton Resort and Club.
Originally, the area was selected because of the nice view and the fact that this land was worthless for farming. It appeared to early settlers that land not adjacent to the F.E.C. Railway was of very little value and would make a good graveyard.
During the nineteen twenties there was a tremendous boom in land speculation in south Florida. It was the roaring twenties and developer and architect Addison Mizner decided that Boca Raton would have a resort to match those in Palm Beach or Miami. He decided on a very elaborate and posh resort to be built on the Intracoastal Waterway so he started building the world famous Boca Raton Resort.
A major challenge to Mr. Mizner was the fact that a cemetery was located in the center of the proposed building site. In an agreement with the cemetery association and the newly incorporated City of Boca Raton, the graves of those buried on the beach were moved, at Mr. Mizner's expense, to a ten-acre parcel of land located at the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and 16th street just north of what is today Glades Road.
Due to a downturn in the stock market and the great depression Boca Raton was slow to develop during the nineteen thirties. It was during World War II that the Mayor of Boca Raton (J.C. Mitchell) invited the military to build a training base in Boca Raton.
Much to everyone's surprise, Boca was selected as the site for a top-secret Air Force base. Almost overnight the population of Boca jumped from 1,500 to 23,000. The Boca Raton Air Base covered all of what is now Florida Atlantic University and Bibletown. It also covered the Cemetery.
Air Force Installation
The heavily guarded, top-secret radar training installation, presented a problem for mourners, funeral homes, and others that wished to visit. To solve this problem the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was ordered to find a suitable site for a cemetery and to disinter the remains from the area just south of Glades Road.
Lt. Col. Arnold MacSpadden of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers selected the highest point in town for the new cemetery. It seems almost poetic that the name of this high point was called Sunset Hill.
In the fall of 1942 to the spring of 1943, all the remains were transferred to the present site. In 1948, the operation of the Cemetery was turned over to the City and the Fire Chief was the first cemetery sexton. He sold, marked, and measured the graves.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Boca Raton slowly became a popular resort town and many visitors returned to call Boca Raton their home. In the 1980’s, the growth of Boca Raton and south Palm Beach County was phenomenal.
At this time, extra land for burials was purchased and the first of many mausoleum buildings was erected. Presently the Cemetery consists of fifteen acres of developed land, five and a half acres of land for future Cemetery expansion, three and a half acres that have been set aside for 27 mausoleum buildings, and expansion area for a total of 32 Buildings of crypts, niches, columbaria, and sarcophagi.
Today you will find that the Cemetery is no longer on the outskirts of town. Boca has grown in every direction and now surrounds us at our location on 451 SW 4th Avenue. Like the City itself, the park-like nature of the cemetery offers many residents a place to stop and relax and reflect.
We offer all residents of Boca Raton the opportunity to purchase burial rights and perpetual care for their loved ones. For those city residents that prefer mausoleum entombment and for those that live outside the corporate city limits, we offer a wide variety of crypts and niches that include indoor and outdoor locations with several chapel areas to hold services or just relax. Feel free to visit a part of Boca Raton’s history.