Securing its place in history
Cemetery is on National Register
Byline: By Mary Ford MFORD@CNC.COM
Cemeteries, especially ancient ones, tell old stories. Just take a
walk through Cohasset Central Cemetery at Joy Place where the oldest
grave dates back to 1705. There you'll also find the Celtic Cross memorializing
the 45 unidentified victims of the brig St. John disaster 150 years
ago; the grave of world renowned acrobat William Hanlon (of the Hanlon
Brothers); and the grave of the Rev. Nehemiah Hobart, the town's first
clergyman - to name a few.
But thanks to the efforts of cemetery trustees - in particular Anne
Montague and Jo Ann Ford who did much of the research on the application
with the help to town archivist David Wadsworth and Deirdre Barrett,
who researched the gravestone art - the cemetery has a new story to
tell. The beautiful, peaceful place with its glacial moraines and views
of Little Harbor is now officially a "national treasure" through
its recent inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Phil Bergen of the Massachusetts Historical Commission presented cemetery
trustees with a certificate heralding the recent accomplishment Sunday
during the cemetery's annual board meeting at the Lightkeepers Residence.
The National Register provides recognition that a property is of significance
to the nation, state or the community. The designation also provides
some protection and ensures the cemetery will be preserved. Cohasset
Central Cemetery with its funerary art by Colonial stone carvers like
Scituate's Jacob Vinal and his son, Jacob Jr. - has long been a town
Bergen explained the effort to place a property on the National Register
could take up to two years. He said the application was affirmatively
voted back in September at the state level before being sent to the
National Park Service. Wadsworth, who has drafted several National Register
applications in town, praised the work of Montague and Ford. "They
did an absolutely marvelous job putting it together," he said.
The cemetery also had the good luck of being able to work with several
Boston University students who provided consulting services on the project
for free as part of their master's degree thesis. The state currently
has no money to provide consultants, and therefore, the cemetery could
still be on the waiting list if it weren't for the help from B.U. "We
filled out the application and they put it into the nomination form,"
In addition to the honor of being listed, the designation will enable
the cemetery to apply for grant money from the state Department of Environmental
Management through a program aimed at providing funds to help maintain
green spaces on the National Register and for preservation work in cemeteries.
Montague said the association's next effort is to create a guide so
people who stroll through the cemetery can have a sense of the local
history the picturesque place represents.