Manhattan is a town full of residents who know all too well the annual rise and fall of activity in every school year. However, amidst all the energetic life of the community rests a 45-acre niche that remembers the dead.
Sunset Cemetery, in all its imposing nature, stands guard to much more than just the dearly departed, and when visitors pass under the wrought-iron gates and enter the rolling, grassy landscape, time seems to stand still and traffic noises fade into the background.
Located on Leavenworth Street near Manhattan High School, Sunset Cemetery is filled with both history and ambience.
The cemetery is — and always has been — a municipally owned cemetery. According to Cheryl Collins, director of the Riley County Historical Museum, Sunset Cemetery was established in 1860, approximately five years after the founding of Manhattan.
Manhattan cemetery sexton Mike Mohler said the five-year lapse is typical of the relationship between towns and cemeteries.
Among those buried in the city’s original cemetery are Nehemiah Green, former governor of Kansas and Civil War soldier. John Winter Robinson, former secretary of state, and Earl Woods, K-State graduate and father of golfer Tiger Woods, are also buried in the cemetery.
One historic marker located in Sunset Cemetery stands proudly near the cemetery’s center. The Wareham mausoleum, built in 1920, is just one of many testaments to Harry Wareham and his accomplishments in Manhattan.
Collins said the mausoleum was built for Wareham’s mother and is made of imported granite – at the cost of $60,000 in 1920, quite the undertaking for any family in Manhattan at the time it was built.
PEACE FOR THE LIVING
While a cemetery should not be confused with a park, Manhattan citizens can appreciate Sunset Cemetery’s solitary location in a number of ways.
Official hours of operation for the cemetery are from sunrise to sunset. During this time, students and residents the cemetery can find a beautiful, quiet place for walking or jogging on its trails.
Additionally, the calm atmosphere of the cemetery offers sanctuary for a variety of other activities that are sometimes difficult to find space for in Manhattan. It offers a quiet space for those looking to clear their mind, worship, pray, meditate, study or simply escape from the hustle and bustle of every day.
Stately markers and immaculate grounds lend themselves beautifully to photography or painting. The well-shaded trails can offer a relaxing afternoon for exercise enthusiasts, or avid picnic-goers alike.
Sunset Cemetery provides Manhattan with a quiet, hidden corner that should not be disregarded. From the Wareham mausoleum to the tree-covered paths, there is hardly a more permanent and peaceful place in Manhattan.