MetFern Cemetery in Waltham, Massachusetts is the shared gravesite between Metropolitan State Hospital and the Fernald State School patients. The cemetery was used from 1947 until 1979 with roughly 310 burials, most of which are not easily identifiable at the moment. Headstones have sunk or gone missing, many have deteriorated because of the type of stone used to create the markers.
Amidst the woods along an old carriage road, the MetFern cemetery is in need of further repair and upkeep. The cemetery resides on Department of Conservation and Recreation property and although a valiant effort has been made on the part of DCR staff, the actual gravestone and grave marker repair is beyond their feasibility.
Thus, in a locally inspired push last year from the then high school senior, Hodaya Propp from Gann Academy, a team has come together to rehabilitate the MetFern Cemetery. As a member of this task force, I have assisted in historical research of the cemetery, have located an organization to hold money for a fundraiser, and am consulting on the actual cemetery preservation work.
As a member of the Association of Gravestone Studies and a leader of the local Northeast New England chapter of AGS, I have working knowledge of the steps needed to repair grave stones and best practices related to cemetery preservation work.
To learn more about the MetFern Cemetery project, please visit: metferncemetery.org.
Photo Credit: Hodaya Propp & Alex Green