November 2022:  Historic Oakland Cemetery has embarked on the first major capital campaign in its history.  A critical component of Historic Oakland’s preservation efforts is the rehabilitation of the 1899 Bell Tower building, the most recognizable building on Oakland’s grounds.  This 2,800 square-foot structure currently houses the sexton’s office as well as the Historic Oakland Foundation’s offices, meeting space, archives, gift shop, storage, cemetery records, visitors center and public restrooms.  The activity and infrastructure that the Foundation can support is limited due to the lack of additional space in the Bell Tower to conduct business, and the historic building is suffering from overuse. 

Moving Foundation offices, gift shop and storage to a new visitors’ center (also to be funded with gifts to the capital campaign) will allow the restoration project to open up first and second floor spaces and update them for programmatic and exhibition usage open to the public.  Plans also include the addition of a catering kitchen to allow the building’s use as a special event space to bring in much-needed revenue.

The Imlay Foundation made a major gift to the capital campaign in May 2020 to fund most of the cost of the Bell Tower restoration.  Groundbreaking for the restoration project took place in November 2021 and the project was completed in Fall 2022.