Tuesday, January 24, 2012

African American Cemeteries impacted by Spillway Recognized as Historic

Two African American cemeteries which were heavily damaged by construction of the Bonnet Carre spillway near New Orleans in the 1920's are now being recognized as Historic under the NRHP guidelines.  The Times-Picayune ran an article on it's website today about the cemeteries.  It appears the surface markers were destroyed during the course of construction and the graves may have been disturbed as well.  I haven't seen the report from 1991 on which the nomination was based.  You can read the article here.

It's good to see the Corp going back and recognizing historic properties destroyed in the course of Corp projects.  It'd be even better to see them recognized before they're bulldozed!  In all fairness to the Corp - the damage was done nearly 100 years ago during some of the worst flooding in the Mississippi River Valley so there were pressing concerns for flood control and no laws or best practice guidelines in place to protect historic properties. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NCPTT Releases New Cemetery Preservation Guide

The National Center for Preservation Training and Technology has released a new cemetery preservation guide.  The guide focuses on the preservation of the entire cemetery and not just the markers.  For example, poorly placed paths can push pedestrian traffic onto fragile areas of the cemetery.  Looks like a good read for anyone interested in cemetery preservation.

Here’s the link:  Mourning Glory:  Preserving Historic Cemeteries

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Markers now available online (for free!)

The Association for Gravestone Studies has made the past issues of Markers available online through a partnership with the University of Massachusetts–Amherst Special Collections Library. Best of all the issues are free to download. This is an excellent resource for cemetery scholars and anyone with an interest in grave markers and cemeteries.

The collection can be accessed here. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Historic St. Peter Cemetery excavated in French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

A portion of the historic St. Peter's Cemetery underneath the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA was excavated over the summer.  The excavations were triggered by the construction of a swimming pool in a new condo development.  This Times-Picayune article has some of the details.  The comments are particularly interesting. 

St. Peter's Cemetery was the first cemetery (there may be older burial places, for example along levees or underneath the church/cathedral), established in 1725.  When it was established it was outside the city, however, as the city grew it was eventually swallowed up by what is now the French Quarter.  It was officially closed in the late 18th century and by the early 19th century the land was being re-developed for residential and commercial use.  The burials were not moved and remain underneath the modern French Quarter.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NCPTT Publishes Disaster Response Guidelines for Historic Cemeteries

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) has published a short article listing guidelines on what to do when a disaster (such as a tornado) strikes historic cemeteries.  The first step is - take a deep breath and realize the damage is done.  You have time to fully assess and restore the situation.  Good advice - it's a bad idea to jump in with a chainsaw and dumptruck, downed trees and hanging limbs can be dangerous, and that chunk of marble you think is beyond recovery might be salvageable once you really take a look at it.  Go slow and do it right!  Sphere: Related Content