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The Cemetery was founded in 1846 by Charles Evans, a prominent local lawyer and philanthropist who desired to establish a nonsectarian cemetery where the friends and relatives of those departed might linger and meditate. Employing unusual vision, Charles Evans selected and purchased 25 acres of land on a prominent hilltop situated, at that time, a mile outside the City limits. It was to be for all people of Reading, a dignified place of interment where natural beauty would be preserved and enhanced with the years. He provided money for a Trust Fund to be used solely for the purpose of making the Cemetery even more beautiful with the passing years - to provide perpetual maintenance of its buildings, trees, shrubbery and spacious lawns.
The most prominent architectural feature of the
Charles Evans Cemetery is the sandstone Entrance Way which adorns the main
access along Centre Avenue. Completed in 1852, this impressive structure
reflects the Gothic Revival style which was popular at that time. Located
immediately north of the main entrance gate, the Tudor-style office building
was constructed in 1927. It provides space for administrative staff, the secure
storage of records and an appropriate setting to discuss the services offered
by the Cemetery.
A Crematorium, Chapel and Columbarium are all housed in a handsome Italianate-style structure situated in the eastern portion of the Charles Evans Cemetery, in the vicinity of Perry Street. Added in 1939, this building features a stately bell tower, a majestic bronze entrance door and artistically designed windows. The impressive Chapel is available for quiet meditation or for services during inclement weather when graveside attendance is impractical. To the side of the Chapel is the Columbarium, where memorial urns find an everlasting resting place, safe from the elements. Imperishable bronze niches of various sizes are available for individual or family use. The original cremation chambers were replaced in 1994, utilizing the latest technological advancements. The Chapel Garden Mausoleum was added in 1981. These two free-standing structures provide granite-faced crypts and niches for above-ground interment. We have also added new niche walls on the north side of the Crematorium, Chapel and Columbarium building.
More than a century and a half old, the Charles Evans Cemetery is now surrounded by urban development, but still retains the quiet, stately grandeur of a long-established and well cared for interment facility. In addition, its central location makes it readily accessible to all the residents of Berks County. The Cemetery now includes 119 acres of well-maintained grounds, with more than seven miles of paved roads which make the extensive grounds convenient to visitors. It continues to be a virtual arboretum, with over 2,200 trees of impressive variety and maturity, as well as an abundance of flowering shrubs. The exquisite landscaping and extensive charm make the Cemetery an appropriate setting for quiet reflection and soothing contemplation.
The Charles Evans Cemetery is non-profit and its lots, crypts and niches are available to all, with a portion of each purchase designated for perpetual care. Lots can be purchased in advance, thus allowing more flexibility in selection. Cremation, Interment services and burial vaults can also be purchased prior to need. Payments which the Cemetery receives in advance for goods and services are placed in trust, thereby guaranteeing the prices. Other trusts are available for additional services desired for a specific lot such as flower placement on a major holiday, continued care of shrubbery or the cleaning of memorials on a periodic basis. Appointments can be made by calling the office at the number above.
Evans Cemetery continues to be a favored choice for interment in Berks County,
even though the City of Reading has now grown to encompass its singular beauty.
Its well-trained administrative and maintenance personnel, as well as the
dedicated Board of Trustees, assure its permanence for generations to come.
A quiet walk through the Cemetery affords the opportunity to appreciate its respectful serenity, the distinctive architecture, the luxuriant landscaping and timeless heritage. Visitors are sure to be impressed with the charm and tranquility of Charles Evans Cemetery and its desirability as a final resting place for those loved ones who are cherished.
Charles Evans Cemetery has a 29 tree arboretum. A map with the walking path and a full description of each tree is available during regular office hours. The Masters Gardeners of Berks County created the arboretum and have identified four trees in our cemetery that have been submitted to the Champion Trees of Pennsylvania committee. The trees are pictured below: