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Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum Receives $1 Million Donation for Restoration, Preservation Project

DAYTON, Ohio – Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum has announced that it has received a $1 million challenge grant from the James M. Cox Foundation. The grant is part of the organization's capital campaign, which is raising funds for the restoration and preservation of three historic structures on the cemetery property. These 130-year old structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the cemetery, itself, is listed as a National Historic District by the U. S. Department of the Interior.

"We were more than thrilled when The James M. Cox Foundation offered us a challenge grant of $1 million toward our capital campaign," said Tony Huffman, board member and campaign chair of Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum. "It was a unique opportunity and one that we were so happy to have received. This generous lead gift will allow us to begin, immediately, the process of restoration and preservation of the historic Woodland Chapel, gates and administration building that were built in 1887.

"Within six months, we exceeded the $1 million goal for matching, meeting the challenge terms of the grant," said Huffman.

The cemetery board approved a multi-phase capital campaign; phase one is for $3.5 million and will ensure the complete restoration and preservation of the historic chapel, front gates and administration building. The chapel houses a one-of-a-kind Tiffany hand-cut tiled floor, 17 Tiffany windows and painted Tiffany frescoes on the walls. The chapel also has original woodwork cut and installed by the Barney and Smith Car Co. from Dayton.

Sean O'Regan, president and CEO of Woodland, said, "Phase two of the capital campaign will allow the cemetery to honor its commitment to preserve and promote the treasures and heritage of Woodland via an endowment for perpetual maintenance and care of 10 historical buildings on site."

The James M. Cox Foundation has ties to Woodland Cemetery as the namesake of the Foundation is buried there. James M. Cox, three-term Governor of Ohio and 1920 Democratic candidate for president, is located just steps from other Dayton notables such as Col. Edward A. Deeds, Loren M. Berry, John H. Patterson, Charles F. Kettering and the Wright Brothers.

Cox Enterprises was founded in Dayton in 1898 when James M. Cox purchased the Dayton Evening News (now the Dayton Daily News). Through Cox Media Group, the company also operates WHIO Ch. 7, WHIO Radio News, 95.7 and AM 2910, K99.1 FM (WHKO) and 95.3 The Eagle (WZLR) in Dayton.

"Woodland Cemetery and its unique grounds are historically significant for Dayton," said Rob Rohr, Cox Media Group Ohio's market vice president. "Woodland is a place where we can celebrate the lives of people who made their mark on our community. The James M. Cox Foundation and Cox Media Group Ohio are proud to join other members of the community to protect and invest in Woodland Cemetery."

"Woodland is such a unique place in Dayton," said O'Regan, a transplant from Boston. "Here you can enter a beautiful and serene environment in the heart of downtown, take a walk among a vibrant and long-established arboretum, explore an outdoor museum and learn the history of the men and women who invented many of today's most modern innovations: powered flight, the electric car starter, the cash register and let's not forget Cheez-its."

The Woodland Arboretum Foundation continues to seek donations from the community and the families of those resting peacefully at Woodland Cemetery. "We are confident that the Dayton community will come together to save these important historic buildings that grace the entrance of our 175-year-old cemetery," said Huffman.

More information about the cemetery and the campaign to restore the historic buildings and how to give support for the project can be found at Woodland's website at

Posted Sept. 12, 2017


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