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 the 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 merchant families of the 18th century including the Forrester, Fiske and Derby families.
Charter Street Cemetery is a highly visible, well documented site that is visited by tens 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. For the first phase, 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 the completed landscape plan. This work will begin in Spring 2018 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 updates on the Charter Street Cemetery restoration project.