Friday, February 1, 2013

$550,000 Face-lift for Plymouth's Burial Hill?

When the Pilgrims first began dying on the cold shores of Massachusetts, their friends and loved ones buried them in the soft sand of Plymouth Beach. A few months into its existence, the town was in a much better place; the weather was warming up, a few houses had been built, and the bodies of the departed could be interred in the town's ritzy Burial Hill district.

This historic burying ground in Plymouth holds the final resting places of the colony's governor and historian, the venerable (and tedious) William Bradford, his fellow Mayflower passengers William and Mary Brewster, and John Howland, the Pilgrim who fell overboard.  For religious reasons, the very early settlers did not mark graves with headstones; the oldest known stone is that of Edward Gray,  buried here in 1681.During the colony's early years, the hill was the highest point in the town; a strategically important spot upon which the pragmatic Pilgrims built a fort that doubled as a place of worship.

In the spring, the Plymouth Community Preservation Committee will ask the town meeting to approve article 16F. This legislation would allocate $550,000 dollars to restore up to 1,000 headstones on the slopes of Burial Hill. The issue has been on the table for several years, and has faced persistent competition from other restoration projects. However, it's likely that the state of Massachusetts will approve the site for National Register of Historic Places status sometime this year, making its upkeep in the meantime that much more urgent.

Whether you find yourself on Burial Hill as a heritage tourist, a jogger, or a ghost hunter, the passage of this funding will keep this remnant of the Old Colony looking (relatively) young and open for everyone to enjoy. Fingers crossed.

You can read more here, at Wicked Local.

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Are you the person who painted graffiti on the graveyard's very nice map of Plymouth Harbor? Do it where everyone can see in the space below. I triple-dog dare you.

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