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The Old Town Graveyard gets a facelift

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MEDINA — The Old Town Graveyard on East Liberty Street will receive a facelift as part of a headstone restoration project.

The project is spearheaded by Friends of the Cemetery and will be completed in two phases.

“It’s an old cemetery. Many of Medina’s founding fathers, Revolutionary War soldiers and Civil War soldiers are buried there,” said Teresa Merkle, president of Friends of the Cemetery.

Fifty-eight headstones will be restored during the first phase of the project at an estimated cost of $24,800. Most of the stones were damaged due to weather and time, not vandalism, Merkle said.

There are 199 stones in the Old Town Graveyard.

Although it is near United Church of Christ Congregational and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, it never was associated with the churches and predates them by about 70 years. Part of the project is cataloging the graves and putting the information into a database, Merkle said.

On Monday, City Council accepted a request to advance $25,000 set aside for sidewalk improvements at Spring Grove Cemetery and reallocate the money to restore the headstones at Old Town Graveyard. In return, Friends of the Cemetery will complete the Spring Grove Cemetery improvements, Merkle said.

Edward Mears, a former Medina resident who died in 2003, left funds for Friends of the Cemetery in his will, but specifically earmarked them for improvements to Spring Grove Cemetery. The request to advance funds is a way to use Mears’ funds appropriately while getting Old Town Graveyard ready for the city’s bicentennial in 2018, which is also Old Town Graveyard’s bicentennial, Merkle said.

“We’re doing a new entry gate … and new sidewalk to the entryway at Spring Grove Cemetery,” she said.

The restoration project is an unofficial partnership between Friends of the Cemetery, Medina’s Community Design Committee and the Main Street Medina design committee, Main Street Medina Executive Director Matt Wiederhold said.

“Medina started its historic preservation in the 1960s, so a lot of the big work is already done,” he said. “By doing this, it gives us something to do as a community in the historic district and respect the history of the place.”

The total cost of the project is $66,850, Merkle said.

Friends of the Cemetery hope that by restoring headstones along East Liberty Street during phase one of the project, the community will gain interest in funding and restoring the remainder of the cemetery in the second phase.

“We’re hoping to be able to have public interest and see if the city is genuinely interested and wants to do this,” she said.

Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson said the fund advance will go before Council for a formal vote on May 9.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.



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