Monday, July 21, 2008

Vandalism in Malden

As I noted in a previous post, the Bell Rock Cemetery in Malden, MA is not in particularly good shape. The ground is littered with debris (glass, trash, condoms, etc.) and many of the gravestones are broken or knocked over.

Many graveyards have broken/toppled gravestones and it isn't always evidence of vandalism — lawnmowers, weather, and the ravages of time all take their toll. In Malden, there is clear evidence of vandalism. Even if some of the stones haven't been broken deliberately, many have been defaced on purpose.

Here are some examples:

These are only a few of the pictures I took — other examples of vandalism were more subtle (drawing on soul effigies with pencil, initials carved into stones, etc.)

I don't know whether anything can be done about this. I was thinking about getting in touch with James Cahill, the Superintendent of Cemeteries in Malden, but I don't know if that would do any good. There are only three public cemeteries in the town, so he must already know about what's going on at Bell Rock, right? Maybe we could put together some sort of preservation/cleanup effort. What do you think, gravestone aficionados?

The earliest stone at Bell Rock is dated 1670. Just to let you know what is at stake, here's one of the stones that has not yet been mutilated:

2 comments:

Cranky Yankee said...

Is it my imagination or does there seem to be an increase in cemetery vandelism in very recent years/months?

At least that seems to be the case here in Connecticut...we've had way too many incidents of it lately across the state in the past year.

Or is it because of specific interests (in gravestones and cemeteries), I notice it more?

Genealogist in Berkeley said...

I live on the opposite side of the country from Bell Rock Cemetery, but recently discovered that one of my ancestors is among the early recorded burials there (no gravestone, though). Some basic Googling did not turn up any information about an organization that might take responsibility for cleaning up the grounds, repairing gravestones, removing graffiti, and documenting each gravestone that remains. I could only find the name of the City of Malden official who is in charge of this and another historic cemetery.

Perhaps this person is the most likely to take action? I will send him a message. I found a local news article from a few years ago reporting that the city was to rebuild part of the stone wall surrounding the cemetery, but there was nothing about cleaning it up or graffiti abatement.

This is all in service of saying - if you are aware of any such organization, I would be very interested to know about them, and also am willing to donate funds to assist in this work.

I just discovered your blog today while looking for information about Bell Rock Cemetery, and have been reading through your archives with interest!