Forgotten graves and long memories
It’s easy to overlook Block 14 – a flat, charmless gravel lot in a corner of the tree-filled cemetery. But from 1891 to 1928, more than 1,131 Chinese were buried here. Even earlier, patients at the nearby Oregon Hospital for the Insane were buried at Block 14. The hospital, known as the Hawthorne Asylum, was just a few blocks away, at Southeast 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. It operated from 1862 to 1883, when patients were transferred to the new Oregon State Insane Asylum in Salem.
In 1928 and 1941, the remains of approximately 800 Chinese men buried in Block 14 were disinterred and sent to China for reburial. In 1952 Multnomah County, which owned Lone Fir, built the two-story Morrison Building on Block 14. Fifty years passed. By then the county had transferred ownership of the cemetery to Metro, but retained Block 14. It planned to demolish the Morrison Building and sell the land for development.
But in 2004 the Buckman Neighborhood Association, Friends of Lone Fir and the Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association informed the county they believed Block 14 still contained human remains. They were correct. Accordingly, the building was demolished without disturbing potential remaining gravesites, and Block 14 deeded to Metro in 2007, reconnecting it to the cemetery.
Again, a place to remember
Block 14 will be restored as a heritage garden and memorial, a historical monument and place to reflect. The Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation, established in 2011, is charged with fundraising for the project.
The $2.2 million garden will serve as a gateway to the cemetery.