Historic Brackenridge cemetery seeks help to make a comeback
Vegetation used to be a problem at Prospect Cemetery.
Now, it’s an enhancement.
The historic Brackenridge cemetery, where many prominent and notable figures from the area’s past are buried, was once being consumed by grass and weeds. That slide into disrepair was reversed.
And now, a small hill in the cemetery features a flower garden.
“It was weeds. People dumped stuff there. It was an eyesore. It was a disgrace,” Cindy Homburg, president of the nonprofit Prospect Cemetery Association, said of the area. “We’ve made a beautiful garden out of that. It’s really given the area a lift.”
Members of Riverside Community Church in Oakmont helped.
Homburg hopes the garden will help make the cemetery look pleasant and entice people to come and want to be buried there.
About 100 lots are available. Lots cost $700, Homburg said.
Prospect Cemetery was incorporated in 1863. It has more than 17,000 occupied sites over 13.5 acres, according to Homburg.
Among its occupants are 754 veterans who served in conflicts dating from the Revolutionary War to as recently as the Persian Gulf. The most, 256, are from the Civil War, followed by World War II (209) and World War I (196).
The cemetery soon will have an area for cremation burials. Those lots will be smaller, about 2 feet by 2 feet, she said.
Homburg could not say how many cremation lots will be available. They will cost less than traditional lots, but she could not say what the cost will be.
Henry Marie Brackenridge, the founder of Tarentum and for whom Brackenridge is named, donated the land for the cemetery. He and other members of his family, along with a maid, are buried there.
The cemetery had gone through a crisis in 2013 and 2014. In addition to high grass, the entire cemetery board left; Homburg, then not an officer, was the only one who stayed.
She’s now the only officer, and the board has yet to be reconstituted.
“I come up here every day to fix the flags and pick up stuff to keep it looking good,” she said. “It’s an every day thing.”
A grass cutter is the only paid employee. Volunteers are needed to help maintain and operate the cemetery, Homburg said.
“Ghost Tours,” which feature actors portraying cemetery occupants, have been a successful fundraiser for the cemetery.
The cemetery seeks donations, primarily from those with some connection to it, but appreciates them from anyone.
Homburg is looking for people to serve on the cemetery board. Board members do not get paid.
“It needs to be somebody who has an interest in cemeteries and history,” she said. “It will be nice to have some younger people in here.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .