The First Defenders Civil War Round Table and the Berks History Center are excited to announce their joint “Stroll Through History” tours of the historic Charles Evans Cemetery on Saturday, September 15th.
Charles Evans Cemetery was founded in 1846 by its namesake, Charles Evans, a prominent local lawyer and philanthropist who desired to establish a nonsectarian cemetery. Located on a prominent hilltop, the cemetery remains a place of natural beauty with well-maintained buildings, trees, shrubbery, and spacious lawns. Once a mile from Reading city limits, the cemetery today is a quiet oasis surrounded by urban sprawl and manufacturing.
The cemetery is most identified with its most prominent architectural feature: a sand-stone gatehouse off Centre Avenue that was completed in 1852. This impressive structure reflects the Gothic Revival style which was popular at that time. Additional examples can be found in the cemetery’s Tudor-style office building, the Italiante-style Crematorium, Chapel, and Columbarium which features a stately bell tower, a majestic bronze entrance door and artistically designed windows.
Charles Evans Cemetery has expanded from 25 to 119 acres containing more than seven miles of paved roads. Since its founding more than 160 years ago, many prominent and not-so-prominent people, including more than a few Civil War generals and members of the original First Defenders, have found eternal rest in a virtual arboretum of more than 2200 trees and an abundance of flowering shrubs.
90-minute tours begin at 12:30 and 2:30 PM, and a “special” members-only extended tour is scheduled to begin at 4:30 PM. The cost for First Defenders or Berks History Center members is $5.00. Non-member cost is $8.00. Proceeds will go to the Charles Evans Cemetery and a Civil War Preservation project selected by the First Defenders.
Leading the tours will be Mark Pflum, a summa cum laude graduate of Kutztown University, with over 30 years of Civil War reenacting experience. He was a Background Artist in both the Glory and Gettysburg movies, as well as also being the Artillery Coordinator for the National Park Service’s movie “Manassas: End of Innocence.” Mark formed The Ringgold Living History Association in 1994, which focused on researching and portraying Independent Battery D, Pennsylvania Volunteer Artillery and giving Artillery programs for many of our National Parks. Mark has been researching the history of Berks County’s Civil War veterans for well over twenty-five years.
Advance registration is required by contacting the Berks History Center at 610-374-4375, and payment can be made by check or credit card. (Checks can be sent to BHC at 940 Centre Avenue, Reading, PA, 19601.)