New Albany leaders are helping facilitate the restoration of the Old Burying Ground, New Albany's first known cemetery that dates back to the 1850s.
A local advisory board has proposed $23,000 in restoration work to New Albany's first-known cemetery, as well as a landscaping and property-improvement plan for the site that is awaiting a cost estimate.
The cemetery, known as the Old Burying Ground, dates to the 1850s and is southeast of Village Hall on the edge of Rose Run. Several of the area's first residents are believed to be buried there.Video •The first-known New Albany cemetery, known locally as the Old Burying Ground, recently was excavated in order to recover gravestones and other information.
The New Albany Cemetery Restoration Advisory Board on May 2 shared its proposal for the cemetery with New Albany City Council.
No timeline was set for consideration of the proposal, but city spokesman Scott McAfee said City Council would revisit it after detailed cost estimates for the other components of the project are provided.
The advisory board's proposal resulted from minor excavation that Columbus-based Ohio Valley Archaeology performed last year. City Council in November 2015 approved $33,467.06 for the project.
Advisory board chairman Brian Zets said the proposed plan includes $14,000 to clean and repair 46 stones and return them to the cemetery.
In some cases, the stones would be returned to their original locations if they could be matched to their bases.
Stones that could not be matched with bases would be installed in the cemetery in locations apart from existing graves, he said.
The board estimated another $9,000 would be required to recreate six stones too far deteriorated to justify the cost of repair and fabricate another six stones that are missing, according to cemetery records, Zets said.
The stones are being stored in a city garage off Main Street.
The additional proposed improvements include fences, landscaping, an entrance wall and sidewalk, benches, a historical marker, signs, a flagpole and security features.
Zets said Columbus-based landscape-architecture firm MKSK should have an estimate for those improvements within two to three weeks.
Zets said he didn't realize the hard work that would be involved in investigating the cemetery.
"We've really found some exciting things," he said.
According to Ohio Valley Archaeology's report, historical records indicate as many as 126 people were buried at the cemetery.
The excavation also revealed the foundation of a building on the cemetery grounds that dated to the 19th century, said Jarrod Burks of Ohio Valley Archaeology.
Burks said he thinks the building was used to store bodies during the winter when the ground was too cold to dig graves.
Former Mayor Nancy Ferguson, who formed the advisory board after urging City Council in 2015 to help restore the cemetery, said the Old Burying Ground first was used in 1854 and 1855.
When what would become known as Maplewood Cemetery was built in 1881 off Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road, 58 people were reinterred from the New Albany cemetery to Maplewood, she said.
Some gravestones were broken when in 1978 a neighbor bulldozed the cemetery after concerns about how the neglected land would affect the value of his property, Ferguson said.
Many of the markers still were in the vicinity of the cemetery, but many that weren't buried were laid near trees and no longer marked the actual sites where bodies are buried.