Haverhill High School history teacher E. Philip Brown is trying to raise $4,500 to improve the appearance of the Civil War-era Hilldale Cemetery.
Brown told WHAV he drives by the cemetery every day and felt compelled to do something about what he sees.
“I’ve become very aware of it. I also feel bad. I am very involved with Haverhill history—Haverhill Historical Commission, Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame—and to see such a historical cemetery become decrepit, it’s very painful. To me, it’s very sad,” he said.
He hopes to raise money in time to make a majority of the repairs before Memorial Day. Brown described his priorities for repair.
“The fence. The fence is most visible. I mean this is a major road into the city—from Atkinson, well-traveled—so the fence is in bad disrepair. It’s the posts. Railings have fallen down. It’s a mess. They’re all discolored. A lot of them are rotted. Some are on the ground because the brackets have rusted away.”
In addition, he added, there are monuments on the ground and some are broken. At a minimum, the needs are “Getting the pressure-treated wood, putting them up and letting them sit for a year and then stain them next year and then you don’t have to worry about them chipping and peeling. So, stain them the original color that they were—green, which you would never know—and then stain them next year.”
When the cemetery was organized, no one would have guessed it would be needed so soon when the north and south came to blows.
“It was founded in 1859. That’s when it was organized, which was three years before the Civil War started. I thought that was kind of interesting that so many Civil War soldiers are buried there right after the thing was organized.” He added, 300 Civil War veterans are buried on Soldier’s Hill.
Brown calculated the minimum price tag for repairs after obtaining quotations from painters and contractors.
He has created an online fundraising account at GoFundMe.com. As an incentive to help raise money, he will provide a copy of Haverhill 375th Anniversary Book, “Haverhill, Massachusetts: Ships, Shoes, & Mills” for donations of $50; placement of the donor’s name on a brass label on a fence rail for $100; and a copy of Ernie Young’s new book, “Hillies: 125 Years of Haverhill Football,” for donations of $150 or more.