Western Cemetery (Portland, Maine)

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Western Cemetery
Front Entrance to the Western Cemetery.jpg
The front gate to the Western Cemetery on Vaughan Street
Details
Year established1829
LocationPortland, Maine
CountryUnited States
Coordinates43°38′44″N 70°16′26″W / 43.6455°N 70.2740°W / 43.6455; -70.2740Coordinates: 43°38′44″N 70°16′26″W / 43.6455°N 70.2740°W / 43.6455; -70.2740
Size12 acres (4.9 ha)
Number of graves~6,600
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Western Cemetery
Front Entrance to the Western Cemetery.jpg
The front gate to the Western Cemetery on Vaughan Street
Details
Year established1829
LocationPortland, Maine
CountryUnited States
Coordinates43°38′44″N 70°16′26″W / 43.6455°N 70.2740°W / 43.6455; -70.2740Coordinates: 43°38′44″N 70°16′26″W / 43.6455°N 70.2740°W / 43.6455; -70.2740
Size12 acres (4.9 ha)
Number of graves~6,600
Find a GraveFindagrave
The Political GraveyardPolitical Graveyard
The Western Cemetery in September 2011.

The Western Cemetery is an urban cemetery in Portland, Maine. At one time Portland's home for the "poor and indigent", the cemetery is named after for its location in Portland's West End neighborhood and proximity to the Western Promenade. Founded in the 18th century, the land was acquired by the city in 1829. In 1841, the city expanded the cemetery to its present 12 acres (4.9 ha). The Western Cemetery was Portland's primary cemetery from 1829–1852, when Evergreen Cemetery was established in Deering, then a suburb of Portland. It was an active cemetery until 1910.[1] In October 2003, the cemetery began a restoration and reconstruction project was run by the Stewards of the Western Cemetery and the City of Portland and funded with municipal funds.[2]

Contents

Desecrations and disorganization

The Western Cemetery is known for a large number of grave desecrations and general disorganization; for example, from July 1, 1988 to August 1, 1989, an estimated 1,942 tombs were desecrated. Likewise, it is unknown how many burials have taken place in the cemetery, though author William Jordan estimated 6,600. A plan was laid out in 1840, but the document was destroyed in the 1866 Great Fire which destroyed most of the city. A number of tombs have been opened with no contents found inside; for example the Longfellow tomb, home to the parents of Portland resident Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was opened and nothing was found inside, with no record of what happened to those entombed there.[3]

Old Catholic Ground

The Old Catholic Ground is an area of the cemetery for the primarily Irish Catholic immigrants who fled the Irish Potato Famine and settled in Portland. From 1843 to 1882, 900 people were buried in the section. As of 2003, 57 headstones remained. The section is also known for headstones containing references to Irish counties and is built on what used to be known as Brown's Hill.[3]

Notable burials

References

  1. ^ Western Cemetery 2 Vaughan Street, Portland, Maine City of Portland, Maine
  2. ^ Greater Portland Graves
  3. ^ a b c Maine's coastal cemeteries: a historic tour by Karen Wentworth Batignani, 2003 via Google Books
  4. ^ Albion Parris BioGuide, US Congress

Further reading