WESTFIELD – For individuals of all ages who have patience and a gentle touch, the Westfield Historical Commission is asking for your assistance on June 4.
A clean-up day at The Old Burying Ground on Mechanic Street is planned June 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and area residents are invited to join the commission members in this yearly endeavor.
“Our mission is to restore and preserve this historic city landmark and one day soon, open it up full-time as a public park to be enjoyed by everyone,” said Cindy Gaylord, commission chairperson.
Gaylord noted that all cleaning supplies will be provided but volunteers may want to bring gloves and rakes.
“We use only special eco-friendly cleaning supplies for the stones,” she said. “If anyone has a hand-held large pump water sprayer to bring that would be very much appreciated.”
The Old Burying Ground is guarded by a wrought iron fence and gate, but vandalism is still an ongoing occurrence.
“We would like the community’s help to get more people invested in caring for this site,” she said. “If more people are watching over it, hopefully it will lead to a decrease in vandalism.”
Gaylord said that over the years many stones have disappeared, have been broken or knocked over.
“I don’t think these people who take the stones have any idea how historic and irreplaceable they are,” she said.
What sets the historic cemetery apart from others in the city is its age, said Gaylord.
“The cemetery is believed to be among, if not the oldest, historic cemetery in Massachusetts still located in its original location,” she said.
An “open gate day” is planned June 11 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. with commission members on hand to answer questions about the site.
“People visit the cemetery for various reasons,” said Gaylord. “Some have ancestors buried there, some have an interest in Westfield’s history, and some are interested in the beautifully carved stones which are no longer seen in present day cemeteries. We also have veterans buried at the cemetery from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.”
Several of Gaylord’s fifth grade students from Munger Hill Elementary School are also planning to dress in colonial costume portraying some of the people buried there on open gate day.
“We did this about five years ago and it was very well received,” she said.