The Lowell Sun ran a substantial article on cemetery preservation yesterday, highlighting the abandoned Hunt-Clark Cemetery. No one has been buried there since 1942 and no one is really sure who is supposed to be in charge of this. The city of Lowell does not want to take on responsibility for it, so private citizens are hoping to create a non-profit foundation to restore and preserve the gravestones.
This is actually not an uncommon occurrence — many small New England cemeteries that were once owned by families or towns have an ambiguous legal status because their most recent trustees died in the 19th century. In some towns, the municipal government takes over, while others are cared for by the local historical society, but many are left to chance. The fact that some stones in these abandoned cemetery is due to custom and watchful neighbors, rather than to legal protections or oversight.
Good luck to Kim Zunino and the other volunteers, and thanks to bob for pointing me toward this article.