18 October 2012

The heartwrenching Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland

In 2005 we walked into the cemetery which just recently had been bought by new owners after many years of overgrowth and see the typical sunken graves with their toppled stones clothed in foliage.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/therepository/2669919235/in/set-72157605073713977/

I recall seeing some piles of stones bulldozed aside at the time, but back then I did not have the confidence to speak up. I feel bad that I have not done more, sooner. I also regret not getting more pictures than what I have. Sadly, this same process has continued all the way into the present and there are no signs that it will stop.

In a day and age when a Facebook petition can end a story telling stroll through a local cemetery, it is sad that this unethical, disgusting, bulldozing treatment of our ancestors final resting places on O'Donnell Street can go by with only a faint cry--with no definitive action and nothing has changed.

Several people have voiced their disdain for the treatment of this once majestic cemetery.

It is remarkable that even a paranormal activity group has begun to speak up online regarding the terrible condition and care of the cemetery. The slideshow is rather long. Minute 5:00 and 5:50 showcase some of the piles of rubble commonly seen.


If this doesn't work, try the link: http://youtu.be/wtzYkCzNauM

The Paranormal Research and Investigation Society who produced this film has some insightful comments one the YouTube page with this video, which includes the following:
"Maryland's Department of Corrections brought prison trustees out to help clean some of the cemetery. But this place is an utter disgrace. As new burials are accepted, odler sections are bulldozed haphazardly, and without reason."

There are several complaints about the cemetery on the Find A Grave message board.

There is a negative review on Yellow Pages.

There is a negative review on Google.

One of the best sites to reveal the community's feelings is actually a photographer's website.

A flickr search for pictures of this cemetery reveals several hundred results, many of which reveal the poor conditions.

This has been a problem for many years and many people have complained. Again I ask, why does a stroll around a cemetery get shut down while bulldozing our ancestors graves is overlooked?

If you agree please leave comments here, on the sites mentioned, write your own blog posts, go to the cemetery and save your ancestors headstones before they all get bulldozed up... do something!

7 comments:

  1. I grew up less than a mile from Mt. Carmel. Drove by it for 20 years, fixated on that rusty sign, crumbling office building, and visible sinkholes dotting the entire landscape. Only recently did I learn that I have about twenty ancestors there. The LeBrun family is well-known in Baltimore history. Several generations of police officers, firefighters, 2 parks superintendents, 3 florists, and 2 outspoken politicians - and half of them are buried in this Godforsaken place. I haven't had the nerve to visit yet. I know what I'm in for.

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  2. I visited Mt Carmel for the first time in October, and yes, conditions are horrific. But they were cutting away when I was there. Fortunately for me my family is buried in the front where it is well maintained. I had to visit the cemetery next door to acquire info on where family was located. They were awesome and took their time helping me. Caretakers whom had directed me next door, were there when I arrived and directed me to the general area I needed. A teacher and history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the old of it all.

    There has been so much talk about help over the years I am curious why the city has not bought it or a historical society aided in its rescue. Additionally, where are the concerned volunteers? This is an incredible opportunity for the city to pull together...it I did not live in Phoenix, I would so be there.

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  3. I am an amateur photographer and walked through this cemetery this morning. I too am saddened by the poor condition of the cemetery. I was so moved that I would like to act. I'm glad to see that there are a few others who have taken a similar interest in the cemetery.

    I'm an architectural historian and have a keen interest in the preservation of historic properties. The poor condition of this cemetery is indeed heartwrenching. I'd like to do a little research into the history of the cemetery and learn more about the current ownership. I don't think it will be too difficult. A swift google search has uncovered the location of some records. If I access some professional databases and make a few contacts, I think something could be done.

    I don't expect it to be easy. If possible, perhaps interested people can band together and work on cleaning up the cemetery. I think the ultimate goal would be to develop a stewardship plan. I think it would be important to first make an attempt to work with the current owners rather than against them. I can think of a number of resources that we could tap for volunteers: eagle scout troops, historical societies and local churches. For professional advice, the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia would be a good resource. Financial support is always the hardest, but banks are required to provide public service grants to their community. Other potential sources would be special collections at churches, personal donations, and fundraisers.

    The above are just some preliminary thoughts and sketches. If you are interested in discussing these ideas or would like to offer some of your own - which I encourage and welcome - please contact me at PreserveJon@gmail.com.

    I realize it's not wise to post your email on a public forum, but I think it's appropriate given the circumstances and what I would like to accomplish.

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  4. I contacted the Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight years ago, but was told to file a formal complaint form. On the form it said I would be obligated to show up at any hearings if I proceeded to file the complaint. That and other requirements discouraged me at the time and I dropped the ball. I live far outside of Maryland. If you are willing to put work into this worthy cause and live in Maryland then you might find their website and contact information useful: http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/cem/

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  5. I live in Texas so I can't really help but I hope someone can get this old cemetery cleaned up. Scout groups are always a good resource. From the look of it, it would be much to big a project for an eagle scout project, but maybe several scouts can take on a section. Or if a large group of volunteers can clean it up, maybe some scouts can build benches, and do landscaping as projects. I have a great great uncle who is buried there. I wonder what state his grave is in! He was in charge of dynamiting during the Great Baltimore Fire. He became sick after the fire and several benefits were held for him. He died shortly after from a brain tumor that everyone believed was caused by all the explosions he set off during and after the fire. He was only 25 when he died. I hate to think he is one of the torn up graves or God forbid, under the freeway! Hope something can be done to bring this cemetery back to a respectable state.

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  6. I am thinking of driving from Florida to track my ancestors. Does anyone know anything about section U. Will I be able to find anything? I called and did not get a return call.

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  7. I have many maternal ancestors buried there and have visited many times. Back in the late 90s there was a report on local TV about the condition of the cemetery which was followed by a volunteer effort to clean it up. Unfortunately that effort seems to have slowed and ceased.

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Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.