Shedding new light on an historic site

The Old Rumney Marsh Burial Ground on Butler Street has gotten a haircut over the last week with numerous invasive trees removed and several existing trees trimmed thoroughly.

The Rumney Marsh Burial Ground Restoration Committee continues to plod along in their efforts to refurbish the old cemetery, which has burials that date back to the 1600s and also contains the unmarked graves of several local slaves who called Revere home at one time.

The last burial was in the 1920s, and the most famous person there is Deane Winthrop – son of colonial governor John Winthrop.

There are also several Revolutionary War soldiers and officers buried on the grounds.

A few years back, several residents were embarrassed to find that the historic grounds had fallen into extreme mismanagement. That began an effort to raise money to improve the grounds.

Last year, a granite marker with an historic interpretation was placed at the entrance – replacing an older wooden marker that was illegible and falling down.

Now, the Committee has spent $8,000 to remove the overgrown vegetation that has plagued the cemetery for quite some time.

In addition to making the area dark and uninviting, the overgrown trees also frequently lost limbs – limbs that would crash to the ground and break the historic stones.

Howard Gaffin of Gaffin Tree Removal is heading up the trimming.

Working with him are arborists John DelRosso and Kyle Stephens, who spend their days working for the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain.

Assisting them were Dave Burbank and Marco DelGuidice.

Gaffin said it is a very specialized job requiring patience.

“You have to be very, very careful with all the gravestones,” said Gaffin. “You have to take your time…We’re being as careful as we can. It was nice to come in and do this. It was very dark and dreary in here. When we’re done, it’s going to be much brighter and there will be less likelihood of the gravestones being damaged. We haven’t brought in any equipment. It’s all done with climbing and rope lines.”

The Restoration Committee is seeking donations to help fund the effort, and they are also seeking interesting people to participate in the overall effort.

For more information or to donate, e-mail [email protected] or call (781) 286-8119.

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