(Providence, R.I.) – Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Awareness and Preservation Weeks will feature dozens of free outdoor programs over the course of April and May. The public is invited to participate in tours, clean-ups, gravestone conservation demonstrations, open houses, and other programs at historic cemeteries throughout the state. The event is organized by the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries (RIACHC) and Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) in collaboration with many individual and organizational partners.
Rhode Island Cemetery Weeks will include walking tours of historically significant cemeteries like Providence's North Burial Ground and River Bend Cemetery in Westerly. Another tour will visit God's Little Acre in Newport, America's oldest documented and extant burying ground for people of African heritage. There will be many opportunities to visit small burying grounds, like the family plot at Casey Farm in North Kingstown and the Governors' Burial Ground in Newport.
For those interested in hands-on projects, there will be dozens of clean-up events throughout the state. Since 2015 the R.I. Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries has promoted volunteer projects that clean up, maintain, and improve historic cemeteries. They welcome volunteers who can help with raking, trash pick-up, light brush cutting, weed trimming, and other activities. At some sites, gloves, bags, and some tools are provided. Volunteers should bring their own tools if available.
Several Cemetery Weeks events will feature demonstrations led by experts. These include stone conservation workshops in Burrillville's Pascoag and Harrisville Cemeteries, gravestone cleaning at Allin Yard in Barrington, and ground-penetrating radar demonstrations in Pawtucket led by the Public Archaeology Laboratory. Other programs will present unexpected ways to explore historic cemeteries, including a "Birds and Burials" tour at Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown, a tour of wildlife habitats at North Burial Ground in Providence, and a scavenger hunt at Brayton Cemetery in Warwick. The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society is planning a day-long event to include tours, demonstrations, workshops, and an exhibit on May 28.
RIHPHC Interim Executive Director Jeffrey Emidy said, "Rhode Island's nearly three thousand cemeteries are among our most unique and often overlooked cultural resources. Historic cemeteries tell the stories of individuals and families, landscape design, artistry and technology, religious beliefs, traditional cultural practices, and community development."
RIACHC Chair Pegee Malcolm added, "The Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries is very happy to be working with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission this year on Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Awareness and Preservation Weeks. We strive to protect all the historical cemeteries in Rhode Island. This year we will be leading clean-ups, tours, and demonstrations to give the public a chance to see the beauty, history, and nature found in historic cemeteries."
Visit www.preservation.ri.gov/ricw for more information and a calendar of events. Listings will be updated throughout the spring. The online listings will have information about times, locations, tour size limits, registration (if required), and other key details.
EVENT DIGEST (full event listings posted at www.preservation.ri.gov/ricw-calendar)
APRIL • April 2 Clean-up | Amos Whitford Lot, Exeter • April 3 Clean-up | Israel Lewis Cemetery, Richmond • April 5 Tour | Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown • April 9 Open studio | Karin Sprague Stone Carvers, Scituate • April 12 Tour | North Burial Ground, Providence • April 13 Presentation | Newport Public Library • April 14 Clean-up | Russell Smith Lot, Scituate • April 16 Clean-up | John Rathbun Lot, Exeter • April 16 Tour | Elm Grove Cemetery, North Kingstown • April 16 Clean-up | Hotchkiss Cemetery, North Smithfield • April 22 Tour | God's Little Acre, Newport • April 23 Clean-up | Common Burying Ground, Newport • April 23 Tour | North Burial Ground, Providence • April 23 Clean-up | Brayton Cemetery, Warwick • April 24 Open House | River Bend Cemetery, Westerly • April 25 Tour | Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown • April 27 Presentation | Scituate Preservation Society, Scituate • April 30 Tour | Coddington Burial Ground, Newport • April 30 Stone Wall Repair | Wilbur Lot, Newport • April 30 Tour | Updike Park, North Kingstown • April 30 Tour | Mineral Spring Cemetery, Pawtucket MAY • May 1 Gathering | North Burial Ground, Providence • May 1 Tour | Burr's Hill Park, Warren • May 7 Painting Project | Clifton Burying Ground, Newport • May 7 Tour | Oak Grove Cemetery, Pawtucket • May 7 Gravestone cleaning demonstration | Grace Church Cemetery, Providence • May 11 Presentation | North Scituate Community House, Scituate • May 14 Gravestone Cleaning | Coddington Burial Ground, Newport • May 14 Tour | Casey Farm, North Kingstown • May 21 tbd | Union Cemetery Annex, North Smithfield • May 14 Scavenger hunt | Brayton Cemetery, Warwick • May 21 Fence painting project | Common Burying Ground, Newport • May 21 Tour | Casey Farm, North Kingstown • May 21 Tour | North Burial Ground, Providence • May 28 Community Day | Bristol • May 28 Tour | Casey Farm, North Kingstown • May tbd Demonstrations/Tour | Allin Yard, Barrington • May tbd Veterans' flagging project | Scituate ONGOING (APRIL - MAY) • April - May (ongoing) Game | North Burial Ground, Providence • April - May (ongoing) Photo contest | North Burial Ground, Providence DATES TBD - INFORMATION FORTHCOMING • tbd | Attleboro, MA • tbd | Barrington • tbd | Block Island • tbd | Bristol • tbd Clean-up/conservation/cleaning demo | Riverside Cemetery, Burrillville • tbd Tour/conservation presentation | Sayles Cook Cemetery, Burrillville • tbd Gravestone conservation workshop | Pascoag Cemetery, Burrillville • tbd | Moshassuck Cemetery, Central Falls • tbd | Charlestown • tbd | Coventry/West Warwick • tbd | Cranston • tbd Clean-up | Cumberland Cemetery, Cumberland • tbd Clean-up | Kimball Lot, Cumberland • tbd | East Greenwich • tbd | East Providence • tbd | Foster • tbd | Glocester • tbd | Hopkinton • tbd | Jamestown • tbd | Johnston • tbd Clean-up and restoration project | Lydia Harris Lot, Lincoln • tbd Flagging veterans' graves | Lincoln • tbd | Little Compton • tbd | Middletown • tbd | Narragansett • tbd | North Kingstown • tbd Clean-up and restoration project | Peach Hill Cemetery, North Providence • tbd Flagging veterans' graves | North Providence • tbd Flagging veterans' graves | Pawtucket • tbd Tour | Portsmouth Abbey/Lawton Valley, Portsmouth • tbd Clean-up | William Hall Lot, Portsmouth • tbd | Smithfield • tbd | South Kingstown • tbd Clean-up | Tiverton • tbd Tour | Tiverton • tbd Clean-up | Kickemuit Cemetery, Warren • tbd | Warren • tbd | West Greenwich • tbd | West Warwick/Coventry • tbd Clean-up | Bernon Cemetery, Woonsocket • tbd | Woonsocket