Spirits Alive

Spirits Alive is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Portland, Maine’s historic Eastern Cemetery through a range of activities including promotion and education.

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Gardening Workday

Saturday, May 18, 2013
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Meet at the Congress Street gate

Join cemetery friends, gardeners, history buffs, and neighbors to spruce up the area for summer. There will be an opportunity to gather the refuse of winter as well as mulch around the happy trees dotting the landscape.

No experience is required! Master gardeners will be on hand to instruct volunteers on the basics of working near historic gravestones, and provide a fun morning for all. Support this city green space and help us encourage respect by keeping it beautiful.

A Visit to the Cemeteries of Peaks Island

Saturday, June 1, 2013
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Ye Olde Trott Burying Ground marker. Photo by Don Shall or @origimidon on Flickr

Take the 9:30 am Casco Bay Lines ferry (round-trip ticket $7.70) from Portland. This will get you there in time to meet in front of the general store on Peaks Island at 10:00 am.
Matt Barnes of Yankee Slate Cutting will be our guide as we visit 3 cemeteries:

We hope Matt will show us some of his own gravestone carvings!
Wear appropriate shoes and layers for walking the island. Bring a lunch or grab a sandwich at the general store after the tour, and catch the 12:45 pm ferry back to Portland. Anyone who wishes to stay on the island for the day might enjoy a visit to the Fifth Regiment Museum and return on the 2:45 pm ferry.

Stone Conservation Workdays

Saturdays: June 15, July 6, July 27 & August 17, 2013
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Martha and Nikki reset a cemetery stone. Photo by Holly Doggett

This year we will be beautifying the area around the captains of the 1813 fight between the Boxer and the Enterprise. Learn about the proper techniques for resetting and cleaning fragile historic stones while preparing the area around the tombs for a September event. If you only want to come for a morning or an afternoon, please do! Participants are not required to stay all day. Wear appropriate get-dirty clothes. Layers, gardening gloves, and good shoes are suggested. We often work in wet conditions.

Wadsworth Monument Repair

Spirits Alive Special Project

Kai Nalenz applies epoxy to the monument pieces. Photo by Barbara Hager

On April 20, through a donation by Spirits Alive, conservator Kai Nalenz of Gravestone Services of New England worked to reconnect the pieces of a monument that had fallen sometime in the last few years. The Henry Wadsworth monument stood proudly for some 200 years, marking the death of Lt. Henry Wadsworth who volunteered for a mission to blow up the USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor. Read the story of Henry Wadsworth and his monument in the Eastern Cemetery.

Subterranean Celebrities: Jonathan & Mercy Dow

The cemetery contains markers that relay the deaths of many children and infants. It's a sad reminder that growing up in colonial Portland was hard on families, and that death must have been a larger part of life than it is today. Two slate stones mark the graves of siblings Jonathan and Mercy Dow who died less than 1 month apart. Though different in style, each stone's timpanum (the rounded part at the top of the stone) has an image in relief of a skull sans jawbone and 2 crossed bones. It is believed that this message to the living was that we are all mortal—nothing but bones in death.

Headstone of Jonathan Dow. Photo by Christina White

In Memory of
Jonathan Dow,
youngest Son to Mr.
Jabez and
Mrs. Dorothy Dow
who Died Decr 24th
1773, Aged 11 years
and 1 month 

In Memory of
Mercy Dow,
youngst Daugr of
Mr. Jabez &
Mrs. Dorothy Dow.
who died Novr 19th
Aged 2 Years
& 9 Months

Sketch from the Jonathan Dow Spirits Alive transcription record form by S. Jaffe

Sketch from the Mercy Dow Spirits Alive transcription record form by N. Thomas

$5 Friendships!

Support the Eastern Cemetery with your giving

For only $5, you can help Spirits Alive keep the Eastern Cemetery alive for generations to come and join as a Friend. Through your support we will continue to:

Go to: www.spiritsalive.org/join to take advantage of this offer today!

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