Broken pieces of toppled gravestones have been restored to give new life to a south Augusta cemetery more than 200 years old.
On two acres on Marvin Griffin Road, about 120 grave sites at Cottage Cemetery hold the remains of notable men and women who lived and worked in Augusta during the 18th and 19th centuries. For Anne Sherman, that was a history that couldn’t be ignored.
“One stone was standing, and now 95 are,” said Sherman, who led massive efforts to restore and preserve the cemetery.
Cottage Cemetery received one of eight awards for historic preservation from Historic Augusta Inc. The cemetery, which is surrounded by a heavy industrial area, had been vandalized and poorly maintained, said Robyn Anderson, the director of preservation services for Historic Augusta.
A large number of preservation efforts on historic properties are completed and under way in Augusta, Anderson said. Many are done using federal and state tax credits.
“Every year, we see more and more properties restored,” she said. “They’ve been bought, rehabilitated and put back into use.”
The cemetery was rediscovered by a group from Virginia Military Institute looking for the burial plot of a former cadet, Sherman said. The group began cleaning up gravestones that were covered with vegetation and lying on the ground.
In 2007, Sherman – who traces her lineage to individuals buried in the cemetery – organized a committee of descendents of individuals buried in the cemetery and formed a nonprofit to raise money for the preservation. Sherman said the effort became a full-time job.
“There’s great destruction out there that still has to be amended. And some of it probably never will be,” she said.
Because the cemetery has no water line, Sherman routinely carries 30 gallons of water in her car to water plants.
More than $60,000 has been spent restoring the graves, including $15,000 in grant money, Sherman said. The Chicora Foundation, a historic preservation agency from Columbia, performed a substantial amount of work.
To repair the stones, workers measured each grave, drilled into the stone and used pins and an epoxy glue to hold pieces together, she said.
Eight recipients received Preservation Awards from Historic Augusta at its annual meeting this month. The awards are presented for outstanding historical preservation projects.
In addition to the eight awards, Historic Augusta announced its new Friend of Preservation Award to honor founders, the late Glascock Bush and Marie Battey Bush. This posthumous award was received by their son Whatley Bush and his family.
Recipients of the Preservation Awards are:
THE RED STAR BUILDING, 531 JAMES BROWN BLVD.: Built about 1921 and owned by Red Star LLC, this building features four residential apartments in the rear of the building and commercial space. The building was saved from near collapse through this significant rehabilitation.
1429 MONTE SANO: Built in 1901 and now owned by David Dunagan, this a quaint cottage that now provides offices for his business. Before the rehab, the house was hidden behind thick bushes and was in a state of disrepair. The project is a certified rehabilitation utilizing state and federal tax credit programs.
WIER/STEWART, 982 BROAD ST.: Owned by Alex Wier and Daniel Stewart, this building was constructed in 1916 for the J.B. White estate as one of six identical buildings. The space now occupied by the graphic design and Web development firm features an original pressed metal ceiling.
DUNBAR-HOWARD HOUSE, 314 GREENE ST.: Owned by Rex Property and Land and built about 1900, this large Victorian house with Queen Anne elements was certified for rehabilitation tax credits. The former bed and breakfast has been converted to residential apartments.
1312 MILLEDGE ROAD, 1219 MEIGS ST. AND 1202 HICKMAN ROAD: Robertson Restoration, owned by Heard and Martha Robertson of Augusta, has rehabilitated three houses while implementing national preservation standards.
OLDE TOWN HEALTH CENTER AT THE WIDOW’S HOME, 124 GREENE ST.: Christ Community Health Services began rehabilitation of this historic building in 2007 and a ribbon-cutting was held in 2011. The original building, built in 1887, remains intact and a modern addition to the southern façade increases the organization’s ability to serve the surrounding community.
HENRY-COHEN HOUSE, 920 GREENE ST.: Purchased by Mark Donahue of Peach Contractors, this Italianate-style house, built about 1853, is a certified historic rehabilitation with six apartments. When it was purchased in early 2012, the house was condemned and facing a bleak future, but it has been restored its original appearance.
COTTAGE CEMETERY: In south Augusta, this 200-year-old cemetery was threatened by vandalism and lack of maintenance. Efforts began in recent years to restore the broken headstones and document the graves throughout the cemetery, which contains some of Augusta’s most prominent citizens.