Friends of Eastern Cemetery is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer group aiming to restore and maintain Eastern Cemetery which is located in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. The history of Eastern Cemetery is not one without controversy. The property was abandoned in the late 1980s when proof of widespread grave abuse was discovered. After that, for more than two decades, the property sat untouched and uncared for. Headstones crumbled as the grounds became overgrown, the pristine environment diminished as people used the grounds for illegal dumping, and trash accumulated as others used the cemetery for parties or vandalism. The rich, historic and cultural center of Eastern Cemetery soon became a mangled, desperate sight right in the heart of the city. Friends of Eastern Cemetery was formed to change that.
Early in March 2013, the first Eastern Cemetery Clean Up Day brought out a diverse group of people. Some were relatives of the interred, preservationists, historians, neighborhood residents, and some were just wanting to make a difference. Armed with trash bags and a single mower, we began picking through the grounds, doing our best to clean up over two decades of neglect. From Sunday to Sunday, the number of names on our sign in sheet would vary. There might be two names, there might be twenty-two. Since then, we have been ever-growing as people take an interest in Louisville’s oldest cemetery.
Our ultimate goal is to create a self-sustainable model for continued upkeep of this historic property. Since there is no active caretaker, we have happily taken over that role. This public effort is carried out with hard work and a great sense of community. That means that grounds are once again kept clean and maintained to the best of our abilities. There is still much to do and we are nowhere close to our desired goal, but we continually inch toward it and appreciate every bit of help we receive. Click here to help us reach that goal!