Due to the virtuous efforts of a member of the Tewksbury community, Tom Marshall, work has been ongoing for the last two years at the Tewksbury Hospital Pines Cemetery.
Tewksbury Hospital started as an almshouse and was opened in May of 1854. What started as an institution for paupers quickly shifted towards those suffering from mental and chronic illnesses. Over its history, Tewksbury Hospital served a large number of constituents, exemplified by its enormous cemetery.
The Pines Cemetery has been used since the 1850s and burials persisted into the 1960s. A longtime volunteer of the Public Health Museum (which is located in the Administration Building of the Hospital) had created a digital database with death information for as many former patients as possible before his own death. This database has recently been taken down, but efforts are underway to make this data available to the public again.
In the last two years, much work has been done to “save” the Pines Cemetery. From clearing out invasive plant species and removing fallen trees, to metal detecting to recover sunken grave markers, the cemetery has improved drastically from its previously forgotten state.
Although I was not a founder of this project in anyway, I have assisted in research on the cemetery and publicity for the spring & fall clean-ups, in addition to searching for sustainable funding to keep the clean-ups going. Initial funding was received through a GoFundMe page, but additional funding has been secured through the Community Preservation Committee in the town of Tewksbury.
Currently, I have successfully written two CPA grants for the project: the first was an award of $39,000 for removal of dead and dying trees from the historic cemetery, and the second was $4,200 for a broad application of herbicide throughout the cemetery. We are in conversation with lawmakers to secure perpetual state funding for the care of the cemetery.