Falmouth's Old Burying Ground Needs Repairs

The oldest known stone in Falmouth's Old Burying Ground is that of Desire Bourne, wife of Lieutenant Melatiah Bourne, who died in 1705 at the age of 31. The writing on this stone can only been seen when the sun shines directly upon it for a few hours in the afternoon.

The Falmouth Public Works Department has hired a preservation consultant to begin work on restoring the Old Burying Ground off Mill Road.

DPW Director Peter M. McConarty announced at the Monday, January 10, select board meeting that his department will be working with Fanin Lehner Preservation Consultants, a company that began categorizing and taking inventory of the more 700 historic gravestones there in 2005.

“The town did not act on the information that was provided, so we are here now to try to put this project back on track,” he said.

The consultants will be back at work in Falmouth as soon as next week.

The Old Burying Ground is a four-acre historic cemetery next to Siders Pond. It contains 750 gravestones that display the names of Falmouth founding families such as Bourne, Butler, Crowell, Davis, Dillingham, Dimmeck, Hatch, Jenkins, Lawrence, Nye, Palmer, Parker and Swift. It is also the final resting place of soldiers from the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the War of 1812. The oldest gravestone dates back to 1704, when the burial ground was adjacent to the First Congregational Church of Falmouth’s meetinghouse.

Many of the gravestones have been damaged by storms and old age. Some have cracked and fallen over, or have been damaged by downed trees.

Edward Haddad, chairman of Falmouth’s historical commission, took up the cause of preserving the repository of local history and went before the community preservation committee for a $75,000 request for a conditions assessment, which the group approved and which will be on the April Town Meeting warrant.

Meanwhile, the consultants will pick up where they left off 27 years ago and will compile a comprehensive inventory of the stones’ conditions.

“They will provide us a cost estimate and a priority plan,” Mr. McConarty said. “We will make sure this project gets off the ground.”

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