There has been a lot of discussion about Burial Hill lately, and I would like to inform everyone about the role of the Friends of Burial Hill and provide a little background information.

There has been a lot of discussion about Burial Hill lately, and I would like to inform everyone about the role of the Friends of Burial Hill and provide a little background information.

In 2010 Burial Hill was in serious need of attention. There was little activity there other than, sadly, numerous homeless and young folks hanging out or actually living there. That is when FOBH began its mission in the preservation of Burial Hill, conservation/cleaning of the gravestones/monuments, and education.

In 2011 FOBH was officially founded as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

That same year, the town of Plymouth Cemetery Department hired an outside company, Fannin-Lehner Preservation Consultants, to do a condition assessment of the entire cemetery including the approximately 2,500 gravestones/monuments on about five acres. Their assessment was completed in December 2011.

In 2013 FOBH succeeded in having Burial Hill included on the National Register of Historic Places.

At the 2013 Spring Annual Town Meeting, Article 16F was approved which allocated $550,000 of Community Preservation Funds to preserve, rehabilitate and restore 1,000 gravestones in Burial Hill. That number was based on the Fannin-Lehner assessment. The first third of the project went out to bid, was awarded to an outside contractor, and that phase was completed in 2017. The second phase went out to bid and was awarded to the current contractor. When that phase is completed, the third phase will then go out to bid.

Throughout the past eight years, Friends of Burial Hill has worked diligently and enthusiastically in its mission while growing to 115 members and countless supporters and donors. Approximately 45 members have been trained in gravestone conservation/cleaning and they work in groups of about eight through their Burial Hill Conservation workshops. This trained group is passionate about Burial Hill and they have surveyed and cleaned approximately 700 gravestones. Each of these stones has been extensively surveyed, documented and photographed before, during and after each job. Our surveys are available to the public worldwide and can be searched through our website www.friendsofburialhill.org.

It is important to note that these are gravestones that are not designated for repair through the town's $550,000 project; we are tasked with cleaning all of the other gravestones. FOBH does not receive any money from the town; it is strictly a volunteer group funded by memberships and donations. We are most appreciative of our extensive membership, donors, and well-wishers from across the country.

We are proud that our group has played a part in cleaning up Burial Hill and love seeing the positive activity happening there daily. We love welcoming visitors from near and far and are happy that the Antiquarian Society/Pilgrim Hall provide monthly tours and that other groups are enjoying the cemetery. Over the years, FOBH has initiated several programs including two well-received Civil War re-enactments, visiting archeologists, and several educational programs held at the 1749 Court House. Our group also publishes a periodic newsletter, “Written in Stone.” Our group has even been invited to other towns to share our success story and assist them in organizing their cemetery preservation efforts.

We really are excited about our work at Burial Hill. We love what we do. We learn and make discoveries about the citizens buried there. For some, their only history is on their gravestones. We look forward to continuing our work on Burial Hill and welcome you to follow us on Facebook, join as a member, support us as a donor, train as a volunteer, or just continue to cheer on our efforts!

Thank you for your interest,

June Gillette, co-founder, Friends of Burial Hill, Plymouth