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Fence Repairs Completed in the Rain

Repaired Fence

Brand-spanking-new pickets

If you saw someone welding the Congress Street fence on May 18, we hope you didn't call the law. It was only the craftsmen from StandFast Works Forge; they were replacing pickets and repairing the locking mechanisms on the gates. No more chains! Our Fence page shows the before and after photographs of this big project. Come on out and admire their good work. Thanks to the anonymous donor who provided the funds for the city to contract with this shop. We hope to continue the improvement of this fence with a paint job and repairs to the concrete footings. All fence photos can be seen in our Flickr set.

Girl Scouts Present the rehabilitated Grand Trunk Cemetery

Kayla and Sam give a tour

Girl scouts Kayla and Samantha have taken on the rehabilitation of the Grand Trunk Cemetery to pursue their Gold Award. They explained the history of the cemetery as well as the continuing work in conjunction with the City of Portland and Portland Trails. The little cemetery has suffered even more neglect and vandalism than the Eastern Cemetery, and few stones remain. After much resource, the girl scouts have marked known burial plots with painted stones. They continue to learn more about those buried and intend to develop a curriculum for students at the adjacent Presumpscot School.

Pictures from the dedication are on our Flickr page.

India Street is Our Neighborhood

Spirits Alive represents the Eastern Cemetery at the newly formed India Street Neighborhood Association meetings. Although we advocate for a city-owned property, it is important that we represent it as part of this changing, growing neighborhood! We discussed safety; anyone that sees illegal activity in the cemetery should call the non-emergency number: 874-8575. Police patrols cannot see over the hill in the back of the cemetery as they walk or drive by. Without permission, it is illegal for anyone to be in the cemetery when the gates or locked or after dark. Thank you for helping us keep this beautiful gem safe and clean.

Genealogists Descend for Workshop

Saturday, June 4, 2011
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

The Greater Portland Genealogical Society will gather at the cemetery for a workshop on stone transcription and a tour of the grounds. Everyone is invited to attend this free event! You do not have to be a member of the GPGS or a Friend of Spirits Alive to participate. Check the GPGS events page for more information.

June 10–12, 2011
Norridgewock, Maine

MOCA is hosting a cemetery conservation workshop at OxBow Cemetery in Norridgewock, ME. Conservator Joe Ferrannini will present methods to conserve cemeteries and gravestones. You may register to attend any or all days, but if you can only go to one, register for Friday or Saturday to learn the basics. This workshop is free, but donations are encouraged. You must email Cheryl Patten with the subject line, "Oxbow" to register in advance.

Next Workday in June!

Walt gathers debris

Walt gathers debris at our May workday
Photo by Leana Good-Simpson

Saturday, June 11, 2011
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Congress street gates

If you enjoy digging in your garden or getting soil under your fingernails, join us as we clean up and prune on the site. Please help! The Eastern Cemetery needs you. Gloves, garden tools, and wheelbarrows will be supplied.

Sunday, June 12, 2011
1:00 PM

The Maine Ghost Hunters is hosting a series of cemetery site visits around the state this summer. Windy from MGH will give a family-friendly overview of gravestone and talk about the history of the site. You must register in advance, and the fee is $3 per person.

June 14-19, 2011
Waterville, Maine

The Association for Gravestone Studies is holding their annual week-long conference of classroom sessions, lectures and guided tours of cemeteries throughout western and central Maine. Workshops in basic and advanced cemetery conservation, gravestone rubbing, photography, and foil impressions are offered. There will also be 12 free evening lectures that are open to the public. Researchers and scholars from across the country will talk about such topics as the rise of 18th century portrait gravestones, FDR’s self-design grave monument, and grave structures in Louisiana and the south.

Early bird registration deadline is Tuesday, May 24, but you can still register by June 3, so hurry!

Stone Survey Revelations

Art, April and Martha read a marble stone with a mirror

Reading a marble stone with the mirror method

Most Every Saturday
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
In the back, down the hill

Come on down! We're finishing up the stone transcription phase this year, so get in on it while you can. We're in the back and sometimes down the hill each Saturday (weather and scheduled permitting - so check the Website for the latest). We've uncovered several stones already. It's an archaeological dig and a history lesson all at the same time. You'll learn more about gravestones and the people underneath them than you ever thought possible. We need your help! Check our page for the most up-to-date schedule.

Thomas Paine is buried on the southern side of Funeral Lane. Born in Eastham, MA, Paine was a descendant of the Mayflower families who settled Plymouth. He was a prominent man, but the Revolutionary War emptied his pockets, so he moved to Mount Desert Island where he met his second wife, Sarah. Mr. Paine was the father of 11 children, and he died at the home of his son Josiah (who is buried in a tomb) in Portland. The fancy marble slab that topped a now-crumbled chest tomb is mostly illegible, and we had a hard time making anything out but the following: "Thomas Paine, Esq., born in the county of Barnstable, died in this town, Jan 24, 1802, Aet. 77." Guess that's the most important part.

Become a Spirits Alive Friend Today

Help Spirits Alive keep the Eastern Cemetery alive for generations to come and join as a Friend. For only $25 a year ($40 for families, $15 for students or elders), you can help:

We also offer 2 free tour tickets and 10% off all Spirits Alive merchandise.

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