Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mt. Prospect Cemetery Fence

Soon after the enactment of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in Bridgewater, the privately owned Mount Prospect Cemetery Corporation requested funding to replace it’s chain link fence bordering Mount Prospect Street. The original, wrought iron, fencing, erected sometime after the cemetery’s establishment in 1842, had been donated to the United State’s “war effort” in the early 1940’s. The existing chain link fence was neither attractive nor historically accurate.

The Community Preservation Committee approved the funding request and recommended that the town fund the fence replacement project in May of 2007. The town voted to support the replacement of the fence with a replica of the original fence ― one piece of which existed as a model.

Replacing the fence around the Mount Prospect Cemetery was a greater undertaking than the either Cemetery Corporation or the Community Preservation Committee had anticipated because Mount Prospect Cemetery is a “living” cemetery meaning that it is not merely historical but still actively used as a burial ground. Use of Community Preservation funds requires that a legal “preservation restriction” be placed on the grounds to ensure that they remain historically intact. The Massachusetts Historical Society approves such restrictions after they have been drafted and approved by the Community Preservation Committee, the Mount Prospect Cemetery Corporation and the Town Board of Selectmen. The complication was discovered when the Historical Society realized that Mt. Prospect Cemetery is still in use and could not guarantee that not all of the cemetery’s existing features would ever change. The Historical Society had, up until that time, only worked with historic, “non-living” cemeteries.

Bridgewater expanded the envelope of the CPA by working closely with Mass Historic until an agreement that preserved and protected the historical aspects of the grounds AND allowed for continuing burials and improvements was reached. In January 2010, a wrought iron fence, replicating as closely as possible the original, was installed along the Mount Prospect Street border of the cemetery adding beauty and restoring the cemetery’s historical look and feel.

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