Archaeological phase of landscape restoration project complete!

Cemetery was temporarily closed to the public November 8-16, 2018 for archaeological review.

In advance of planned landscape restoration work in the historic Charter Street Cemetery, a team of archaeologists completed field work at the cemetery where proposed restoration of existing pathways, installation of lighting, and new plantings are planned. The field work began in early November and lasted approximately one week, until snow and freezing temperatures halted the survey.

 The City is awaiting the final report from the archaeologists, which will inform the final design of the site restoration. It is anticipated that the restoration project will be put out to bid for qualified contractors in the spring. Tree work and other landscape maintenance may be undertaken during the winter months in advance of the larger project.

This project was funded in part with Community Preservation Act Funds and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Facilities Fund Grant.

For more information about this project, please contact Patti Kelleher, Department of Planning and Community Development at 978-619-5685.

Charter Street Cemetery

Located in the heart of the Charter Street National Register Historic District, Charter Street Cemetery is Salem’s oldest burial ground. This  1.47 acre public green space contains one of New England's finest collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century gravestone art with the oldest stone dating to 1673. Notable burials include Judge John Hathorne, who had a prominent role in the witchcraft trials of 1692, Governor Simon Bradstreet, Salem woodcarver and architect Samuel McIntire, and many of Salem's most prominent 18th century merchant families including the Forrester, Fiske and Derby families.

Charter Street Cemetery is a highly visible, well documented site that is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. This popularity has threatened the integrity of the burial ground’s headstones by compaction and widening of the stone dust pathways from visitors to the site. Vandalism has also been a significant and direct threat to the preservation and protection of the burial ground’s historically significant headstones and tombs. In 2016, the City embarked on a multi-phase restoration of the burial ground.  During Phase I, the City utilized CPA funds to hire Monument Conservation Collaborative to restore 23 headstones and 8 box tombs. During this phase, the City also hired landscape architect Martha Lyon to conduct an assessment, create landscape plans and make recommendations to conserve the site.

In 2017, the City received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Facilities Fund grant to implement Phase II - Landscape Restoration. This full restoration work will begin in Spring 2019 and will include upgrades and stabilization of the pathways, installation of in ground lighting, installation and restoration of fencing, and major landscaping improvements.  

Please check back for more updates on the Charter Street Cemetery restoration project.

 Phase I - Monument & Box Tomb Restoration