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.