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Visitors to New Canaan’s main cemetery soon will be able to tour the hallowed grounds with a mobile app detailing the lives of some of the town’s most noteworthy residents interred there.
Using cellular location technology, visitors to Lakeview Cemetery will be able to use the Otocast app for a self-guided tour narrated by a prominent local woman.
The app will launch at 4 p.m. Thursday with a special tour, according to Nancy Geary, executive director of the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society.
“We hope that people will come out,” Geary said. “Eric from Otocast will be there to help people if they have any technical problems. We can show them how it works. We’re going to highlight three people on the tour, and then people can either come back and have a glass of champagne, or they can continue wandering around on their own and listen to stories of other people.”
Attendees are encouraged to meet at the cemetery’s office, accessible via the Main Street entrance, and to wear comfortable shoes and bring their cellphones and passwords to access the app store. The new service is a collaboration of NCM&HS, Lakeview Cemetery and town resident Dede Bartlett.
There are more than 10,000 people buried in Lakeview Cemetery. The app will use cellular location data to lead visitors through a tour that includes profiles of 21 of those people at launch, with more to follow. Otocast’s Lakeview Cemetery tour will include photos as well as narration (two to three minutes per person) from Bartlett, according to Geary.
Included in the list of those profiled are New Canaan icons such as Bailey Stewart, Albert Franco, Hazel Hobbs, John Irwin, Lucius Griggs, members of the Benedict and Lapham families, and John Gregg.
“We will continue to build this as we have the time and resources to do it,” Geary said. Developing the tour has been a “fairly labor intensive” project for the past 18 months. The work has included writing the scripts, as well as recording and editing Bartlett’s audio narration.
Lakeview Cemetery was established in 1870 by the New Canaan Cemetery Association, which had been founded just three years prior on March 19th, 1867. Although the town had 28 different cemeteries before Lakeview’s establishment, only two of them were open to the public, and did not contain anywhere near enough land to support the growing population. Even with its 10,000 people interred, Lakeview Cemetery still has enough land to continue serving as a last resting place for years to come, Geary said. Board members at Lakeview “have plans to open new sections,” whose locations can be viewed on the map at the cemetery.