Hallowed ground under repair

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

I’ve driven by Cedar Hill Cemetery almost daily for the past five years, never giving a heckuvalot of thought to it. In fact, the only times I’ve set foot in it were a couple of Memorial Day services write at the entrance.

I just don’t like cemeteries and have devoted much of my life to actively avoiding them except for a brief period in the mid-to-late-70s when one in Summersville, W.Va. was the only place we ne’er-do-wells could congregate on weekend nights to drink beer while underage.

On Thursday, Ellen Saunders of the Nansemond River Garden Club gave the program at the Suffolk Rotary Club. The garden club has adopted the historic, Cedar Hill Cemetery, which has fallen into various states of disrepair because of neglect, vandalism and Mother Nature.

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Hearing Saunders refer to it is &uot;hallowed, historic ground,&uot; and seeing the slide presentation with the wonderful, intricate carving in the monuments, made me realize what an asset we have.

As Saunders mentioned, it’s also significant because it’s more than 30 acres of green space in the heart of downtown, something few cities have.

The garden club is trying to raise $100,000 for various projects such as building a &uot;scatter garden&uot; for cremated remains, which, by the way, is exactly what it sounds like and has been completed, building buffers around old markers to protect them from even more week whacker damage, and generally improving landscaping.

The big kahuna, which will eat up half the planned project cost, will be restoring the old fountain to working condition.

The group is trying to raise money to complete this worthy project. Contact Saunders or any club member about making a donation.

It would be cool if other garden clubs would step up to beautify other cemeteries in the city. Carver immediately comes to mind.

Now under new management, there remains significant opportunity for some group to take this historic black cemetery and return it to its former glory.

Any takers?

While I remain mostly creeped out by cemeteries, I plan on getting over to Cedar Hill soon for a walk-through. I’d like to see some of what Saunders so eloquently described, but you can be sure I’m going to stay upwind of the scatter garden.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or at andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com