Hill School students (above and below) spent a portion of last Saturday (Sept. 22, 2018) in helping to spruce up Edgewood Cemetery in Pottstown
POTTSTOWN PA – Borough residents are being encouraged to volunteer in a community-wide clean-up of the historic 12-acre Edgewood Cemetery, 106 Edgewood St., scheduled for Oct. 20 (Saturday) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’ll join others in raking, weed-whacking, mowing, planting flowers, and making other improvements while learning about the cemetery and its background from local historians.
A rain date, Oct. 27, at the same times has been set in advance in case of inclement weather.
The cemetery, created in 1862, has not had an official individual owner since the 1930s. The individual who served as caretaker left the cemetery around 2012. Since then, a volunteer non-profit board has attempted to raise funds, keep the grass mowed, and conduct other maintenance, but needs more help in achieving restoration. The work ranges from resetting tombstones to clearing debris and maintaining paths, volunteers say.
The Oct. 20 “bring your own tools” grounds improvement effort, labeled as “Stop Complaining, Start Caring for Edgewood Cemetery Day,” is being planned by Pottstown CARES and The Hill School’s Hobart’s Run neighborhood improvement area. CARES – Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability – is a collaboration between The Hill School, the borough of Pottstown, the Pottstown School District, Montgomery County Community College, the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce, Lowes, and Habitat for Humanity.
All are welcome to participate, the non-profit indicated; from creative master gardeners to weekend warrior weed-whackers, and friends who can rake, sweep, or dig.
Plans still are being finalized. Organizers expect to have a “bucket brigade” of volunteers collecting essential donations from passing vehicles and pedestrians. There also will be an opportunity to share ideas for physical improvements, financial sustainability and fundraisers, and volunteer coordination.
Pottstown attorney Andrew Monastra and his wife, Sue, have been doing much of the physical work at the cemetery with help from a landscaping company hired through a $5,000 donation from Hobart’s Run and other contributions.
“As a community, we need to come together on this issue,” Monastra said at a recent presentation at the Pottstown Historical Society, where local historian Michael Snyder shared an illustrated lecture about the cemetery and people buried there. “This is a shared, Pottstown community-wide concern. The cemetery belongs to all of us who care about how we are treating the people who are interred there, as well as those who care about what the condition of Edgewood says about Pottstown as a whole.”
“Eventually, we need a long-term plan for Edgewood to be self-sustaining. In the meantime, we need volunteers who consistently help with maintenance. We also need lawn mowing equipment, and money that can be used to provide the means to care for the grounds,” Monastra said. “We’d like to not only keep the grass mowed; we’d like to create beautiful garden spaces for meditation … volunteers cannot do it all.
“Hobart’s Run is addressing a range of priorities that include fostering a clean, safe, and inclusive neighborhood, and encouraging positive residential and commercial improvements,” Cathy Skitko, senior director of institutional public relations and Hobart’s Run communications, notes. We are investing significant efforts toward assisting Edgewood, raising awareness of this community issue.”
Friends who would like to search a list to see if loved ones might be buried in Edgewood can do so through the inventory, provided here.
Financial contributions can be made to Edgewood Historic Cemetery Inc. and mailed to 740 E. High Street, Pottstown PA 19464. The organization also would welcome donations of working equipment such as lawn tractors, mowers, and weed-whackers, as well as hand tools. They would especially welcome donation of a 360-degree turning mower as well as funds toward purchasing such equipment.
For more information call Cathy Skitko at The Hill School, 610-705-1017 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or Andrew Monastra of Edgewood Historic Cemetery Inc., 610-323-7436 or email@example.com.
Photos from The Hill School