Oak Grove Cemetery

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Location: Jones Road at Palmer Avenue (NE corner)
Applicant: Oak Grove Cemetery Association
Grants: $28,093, $59,279, and $6,730
Year/Article: November 2010, A39; November 2014, A32; April 2017, A41

Phase I
The twenty-two-acre Oak Grove Cemetery, on the north side of Jones Road extends northward along Palmer Avenue. Established in 1848, the grounds hold a non-denominational chapel and over 5100 monuments of various styles dating back to the colonial era. Graves include those of a revolutionary War veteran, Jonathan Green, and of 20 men who fought during the War of 1812, such as Captain Westin Jenkins, who famously repelled the British ship The Nimrod trying to land on Falmouth’s shore in 1812. Graves include scores of Civil War and Spanish-American war veterans, hundreds of World War I and World War II veterans, and many prominent early Falmouth founders, including the Lawrence, Davis, Bourne, Shiverick, Nye, Gould, Swift, Gifford and Nickerson families. Katharine Lee Bates, author of “America the Beautiful,” is buried next to her father, a minister at Falmouth’s First Congregational Church. The grounds also serve as a gathering place for community events.

Like all the historic burying grounds in Falmouth, by the 21st century, gravestones and sites were badly deteriorated and little research had been done to learn about the people who were buried there. There were 86 headstones in various states of disrepair and 33 burial markers mostly sunken and in need of new bases.

In 2010 the Oak Grove Cemetery Association requested and received from the CPFund $28,093 for a three-year project to restore the thirty monuments most in need of attention, ten each year. The work was conducted under the supervision of Donna Walcovy, professional cemetery conservator and the manager of Oak Grove Cemetery. Restoration activities differed depending on the condition of the stone, but most required hoisting the monument from its foundation, leveling the base and refitting it with stainless steel bolts before re-adhering it to its foundation using the appropriate mortar. The work was completed in 2013.

Phase II
In 2014, the Oak Grove Cemetery Association requested and received from the CPFund $59,279 of a $75,081 three-year project, a continuation of the ongoing work of restoring and preserving the cemetery’s gravestones and monuments. Costs not funded by the CPFund were covered by donated materials and labor. Under the direction of cemetery conservator Donna Walcovy, volunteers and paid assistants cleaned the gravestones, applying HCT rinse to all the marble stones. Focusing first on honoring the veterans, biographies of each veteran and his family, including military service, were developed and attached to the flag flying at each soldier’s grave. The biographies were also provided to the Falmouth Veterans Services, the Falmouth Historical Society, the Falmouth Community Preservation Committee, the Falmouth Public Library, and the Falmouth Genealogical Society for its website.

Phase III
In April 2017 Town Meeting awarded the Association an additional $6,730 for the repair and restoration of twenty-two additional badly deteriorating headstones, including those of six children of the Davis family. As with previous work, additional costs were covered by donated materials and labor, grants, and revenue from Oak Grove Cemetery tours.

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