24 May 2011

Graveyard of Shame


Want to do something for the City? Call this number, and tell Parks and Recreation to take care of its historical treasures.

This sign in on the iron fence that surrounds the historic Gravesend cemetery. It dates from 1643, the year Gravesend, one of the original settlements that went on to form Brooklyn, was founded. The town's founder, Lady Moody, a London widow, is supposedly buried in there somewhere.


The graveyard is in deplorable condition. It's not enough that its surround by a patchworks of ugly houses, auto body garages and garbage filled lots. The grounds are overgrown, the grass not mowed for months. Maybe it's never mowed.




And you can bet if the lawn isn't trimmed, the many old tombstones are not seen to.


The cemetery, which is located at Gravesend Neck Road and McDonald Avenue, is on the National Register of Historic Places, by the way.


I'm not a patriotic stickler, but you'd think they'd go in to take down or change the flag every now and then. Disgraceful.

11 comments:

Joseph Ditta said...

Since the Gravesend and Van Sicklen Cemeteries have come under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department, they've never been in better shape. The growth you're seeing is fairly new; Parks has the cemeteries on a regular mowing schedule, and they've responded rapidly to my calls regarding downed tree limbs and other problems. --Joseph Ditta, author of THEN & NOW: GRAVESEND, BROOKLYN (Arcadia Publishing, 2009).

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Glad to hear this news. Has it yet been mown? I visited a couple weeks ago.

Joseph Ditta said...

I will have to investigate and let you know. Seriously, though, compared to how it used to be--strewn with abandoned cars, tires, every type of JUNK--the cemetery is in excellent shape. The current fence was installed in 2002. The cemetery suffered some unfortunate vandalism in the early '70s; most of the stones toppled back then remain toppled today. Righting them is costly, and the city sure isn't going to cough up the money to do so. I've given a tour of the cemetery for 3 or 4 years running now (usually the weekend before Halloween). If Parks asks me to lead one again this year, I hope you can make it!

addie said...

@Joseph Ditta, that condition has not come over just a few weeks, not really?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Glad to hear it's in better shape than it was. But it still shouldn't ever be as overgrown as it was when I saw it.

Would love to take a tour of it. Contact me at lostcitybrooks@gmail.com when your tour is scheduled.

upstate Johnny G said...

What's the history of the cemetery? Why not start a "Friends of Gravesend Cemetery" organization (501c3, natch) that could accept donations to be used to pay the Parks Dept to restore toppled stones to their bases? Or, maybe better yet, get the Parks Dept to partner with the Friends so that the Friends can have "volunteer community maintenance days" and come out and do some of the clearing/mowing in return for the Park Dept fixing the stones? Guess I'll have to do some research on how to raise stones...seems like it would be easy with a sling, a chainfall, and a sturdy log tripod lashed or chained together at the top. If there's supposed to be a mortar joint at the base then I guess you'd have to clean the surfaces, mix up a small batch of mortar and then point later. Just an idea.....

Ken Mac said...

i would also love to tour the cemetery. Apparently it is not open to the general public?

MichNovak said...

Thanks so much for this post — I haven't been out there in a few years and have always wanted access to the yard although I know no 17c stones survive. I have a number of ancestors buried there (including the family who most likely helped build the Lady Moody house and lived in it after she left it).

Joe, what's the best way to keep in the loop about the tour? (Hi Joe, we met at they NYPL tour a few months back. I'll look into your book, too!)

Cash For Cars Atlanta said...

You're right, after reading the post this really is a graveyard of absolute shame. Would it kill them to renew the flag in honor of those buried? If its such a important cemetery, you would think that they would take care of it more often to prolong its beauty.

-David Enabulele

Sara C. said...

I too would like to join any tours and would come out for a clean up day. I have not run it down rigorously, but I believe I have ancestors buried in the Van Sicklen cemetery. How can I find out about these activities? I prefer not to post my email address here.

Heather Van Siclen said...

I wish I was closer. I have researched my family, not hard to do, being a Van Siclen. I would come take care of the cemetery but alas, I'm in Virginia.