MEDWAY – It took 270 years, but Evergreen Cemetery is finally on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Paul Russell, vice president of the Medway Historical Commission.
The important historical and artistic value of the cemetery has been recognized by the National Park Service, fulfilling two criteria required to be admitted to a list that includes sites “Worthy of preservation”.
Over 200 headstones are inscribed with the names of soldiers and veterans, including the French and Indian War, the War of Independence and the War of 1812, making it the oldest cemetery in Medway .
History and art
Evergreen Cemetery also met the artistic criterion based on typical New England gravestone carvings such as skulls with wings, cherubs and urns that “demonstrate the evolution of beliefs surrounding death from the colonial period to the modern period “, according to the request submitted by the local commission.
But despite the abundance of historical quality, Russell said it took a while for the commission to get real attention to the cemetery.
“Originally there were two people who tried and worked on this in the 1990s, but only did so at the state level,” said Russell, who joined the commission at late 2000’s. “When I walked in I think there were about 18 search pages that were done and I did another 20 or so search pages that I did. finally sent with an application in 2020. ”
After a delay due to the pandemic, the request has been reviewed by the National Park Service. The results were announced last month.
Since the 12.8-acre land was converted into a cemetery in 1750, it has housed more than 3,600 pre-independence graves.
The northwestern portion of the cemetery contains 362 graves with the headstones of six Medway residents who fought in the War of 1812, and 120 Civil War veterans and soldiers.
Among them is Joseph Barber, a well-known resident of Medway who fought in the Revolutionary War and was the most important gravestone sculptor in Southeast and Central Massachusetts.
Her work was characterized by its characteristic fronds and swirls, such as those found on the grave marker of Elisha Partridge from 1752 – the oldest identifiable in the cemetery.
Maintenance of tombstones
Considering his age, the cemetery needed funds for its upkeep, according to Russell. And with the new federal designation, he hopes the cemetery will be eligible for grants that will help maintain the gravestones.
“The city actually spent $ 15,000 twice to fix rocks that fell or broke,” Russell said. “And we could spend double that easily again and not have that ending where it really should be.”