ES cemetery on National Register of Historic Places

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Eureka Springs Cemetery has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the National Register nomination, the rural cemetery contains burials dating to the 1880s and many of the monuments can be attributed to local and regional sculptors and stonemasons.

It says the cemetery contains excellent examples of funerary art, monument and statuary designed during the period of significance, ranging from modest marble grave markers to elaborate marble obelisks and limestone monuments. The extant resources represent changing attitudes toward death and burial practices through the period of significance, the nomination says, and the organization and layout of the site, as well as tombstone decoration, symbolism and inscriptions provide documentation of the traditions and beliefs important to the citizens of Eureka Springs, including members of fraternal organizations and various religious denominations.

At the Eureka Springs Cemetery Commission’s Wednesday meeting, chairwoman Susan Tharp announced that the cemetery had also received the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s cemetery grant.

She said commissioners Jim Jordan and Luther “L.B.” Wilson had resigned, and city preservation officer Glenna Booth, who helped with the grant application, has volunteered to serve as a commissioner.

Booth said the commission received the maximum grant amount of $9,999 and must provide a 20 percent match, which would be approximately $2,000.

The commission voted to pursue the conservation of headstones as its grant project, deciding to concentrate on repairing leaning and broken headstones near the front of the cemetery and cleaning headstones made out of local limestone and marble since they are deteriorating the fastest.

Tharp said they would need to purchase a large water tank, a pressure washer and a 55-gallon drum of the cleaning solution D/2 in order to hold community workshops where volunteers will be trained on how to clean the headstones under the supervision of the commission members, cemetery superintendent Pat Lujan or stonemason Bruce Wright.

“This grant will be coming to the city, not directly to the cemetery commission,” Booth said. “We’ll have to make three quarterly progress reports in December, February and April. The final spend-out needs to be by June.”

She continued, “We cannot spend grant money on equipment, so we will be spending as per our grant. Most of the money will go to Bruce for resetting the really bad stones.”

Booth said the grant can cover Wright doing the training, his work time at a $30 per hour rate and the purchase of cleaning supplies.

“The D/2 is our biggest expense at $3,900 to buy two drums,” she said. “The way the grant works is we have to spend our matching funds first and then we put in for the grant money.”

The commission voted to purchase a 6-foot-by-8-foot trailer for $999 using commission funds.

“That should be plenty big enough to put a water tank and a generator on,” Tharp said. “We could purchase the trailer out of the cemetery commission fund. We need one anyway to haul our lawnmowers to get them fixed.”

Booth said she would like to meet with Wright in August to finalize the list of items to be covered by the grant.

Secretary and treasurer David Sallee updated the commission on the tractor fund, which was established in March with the goal of purchasing a small tractor to fill graves and dig new plots at the cemetery grounds.

The fundraising goal is $13,000, he said, and the commission has received about $8,277 in donations. Lujan said anyone interested in making a donation can call him at 479-244-5146.

The commission voted to approve allocating $1,500 for the removal of two dead trees at the cemetery.

During the superintendent’s update, Lujan said the cemetery had a successful Memorial Day event. He said he and cemetery sexton Gloria Stevens were at the cemetery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend to provide water and snacks to people decorating graves and answer any questions.

“Our little fundraiser went really well,” Lujan said. “We took in almost $600 in donations for the tractor, and Gloria sold three plots while we were there. It was worthwhile. People loved us being out there, and Gloria spent a lot of time putting together information for over 95 graves.”

He said it would be good as an annual event. Next year, he said he would like to advertise the event better before Memorial Day.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the lobby of the Auditorium.

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