4 Vaughan Street, Portland | Nominated to Places in Peril in 2013
After 184 years of service, Western Cemetery, Portland’s second oldest cemetery, suffers from neglect and deferred maintenance. Its unmanaged, overgrown appearance has attracted vandalism. While the Stewards of the Western Cemetery have worked hard to raise private funds, advocate for maintenance, and encourage the city to implement the Western Cemetery master plan, the level of fundraising has been inadequate.
In 2001, the city of Portland approved a master plan for the cemetery, which identified capital and maintenance needs for the historic landscape. A group of concerned citizens formed the Stewards of Western Cemetery to advocate for city support and raise private funds for capital projects. With support from the Stewards, the city renovated and conserved the mausoleums and the Daveis Memorial Gate, and installed a portion of new steel picket fence on the Vaughan Street side. Community support is necessary to continue the work by the Stewards of the Western Cemetery in their ambitious plans to enlist volunteers and raise additional private support.
Located adjacent to the West End Historic District at 4 Vaughan Street, the Western Cemetery is an important public open space. The cemetery is significant for its association with citizens and families who were important to Portland’s history, and is an example of the transition from early burial grounds to planned garden cemeteries built on open land. It is recognized as one of Portland’s designated historic landscape districts.
The city purchased the land in 1829 and expanded the cemetery to its current 12 acres in 1841. It was the city’s primary burying ground from 1829 until 1852 when Evergreen Cemetery opened. The cemetery has an estimated 6,600 marked and unmarked graves and remained active until 1910. Its lots and circulation paths were planned by civil engineer James Hall in 1840. Its main entrance, the 1914 Daveis Memorial Gate, was designed by John Calvin Stevens. When room was no longer available at Western Cemetery, some families moved their plots to Evergreen Cemetery. However, many burials still remain, including Revolutionary and Civil War veterans, Irish immigrants, and notable local citizens.
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What You Can Do
- Advocate for city funding to maintain the cemetery and implement the 2001 Master Plan.
Support the Stewards of the Western Cemetery in their ambitious plans to replace the enlist volunteers and raise additional private support to increase public awareness and appreciation of the cemetery’s historic significance and use of its grounds through tours and interpretive signage.
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- Support our advocacy efforts and Places in Peril program by becoming a member or making a donation today.