400 still entombed at crumbling Cranston mausoleum as break-ins continue

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been nearly a decade since the Roger Williams Park Mausoleum in Cranston was formally abandoned, and the structure has since continued to crumble away.

In 2019, 12 News was there as some of those interred within were relocated to the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery, but the city estimates around 400 individuals are still inside.

The condemned property has been the subject of legal battles since the owners died in 2003, as well as the target of trespassers and vandals, despite being fenced off and locked.

The most recent break-in took place this past Halloween, according to Cranston Chief of Staff Anthony Moretti, who said the city is “doing what it can” to protect the mausoleum.

“Even though it’s not our building, for public safety, we’ve been boarding up the building,” he said.

Moretti has been inside the mausoleum and called the sight “gut-wrenching.”

“There were a handful of disturbed coffins,” he said. “These people are disgraceful what they’re doing. Seeing the indignity of the remains … it’s awful.”

Photos: Inside the Roger Williams Park Mausoleum (story continues below)

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Moretti believes the short-term solution is to relocate the remains, so the city is talking to a local funeral director about what that might cost. The current estimate is roughly half a million dollars.

“Find a proper cemetery, burial spot, relocate the bodies with concrete encasements, give them proper reburials, and assign a plaque with everyone’s name,” Moretti said, explaining all that needs to be done.

Moretti called upon the state to help address the issue.

“Everybody in this building is not from the city of Cranston,” he noted. “I hope they’ll be able to help us out, and they can take some ownership to this issue and not just the city of Cranston that’s taken the lead.”

Anyone who has loved ones interred at the mausoleum is urged to contact the city by calling (401) 461-1000.