By Zenya Molnar, Contributing Writer
Northborough – In September 2016 the Northborough Historic District Commission (NHDC) installed three signs in three of Northborough’s historic burial grounds to identify the Brigham Street Burial Ground, the Howard Street Burial Ground, and the Howard Street Cemetery. The signs, which were designed by the NHDC and manufactured by Expose Signs in Northborough, are the first to recognize the burial grounds.
Located on Brigham Street near the intersection with South Street, the colonial-era Brigham Street Burial Ground is the first burial place in Northborough and was used from circa January 1727 until about 1749. There are more than 60 visible burials, and more research is underway to further identify the grave sites in the three-acre parcel of land. Visitors to the burial ground can view the few surviving headstones as well as a plaque that was erected in 1945 that describes a brief history of the cemetery’s founding.
The Howard Street Burial Ground, situated behind the original meeting house in Northborough – currently the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church – opened in 1749. Many of the headstones represent Northborough’s inhabitants from colonial times, including soldiers from the Revolutionary War and the town’s first two ministers. The headstones and engravings still exist today. The first burials in the new cemetery were about 60 children who had died of a throat distemper epidemic in the 1740s. The original burial ground, which measures one acre, is separated from the newer part of the Howard Street Cemetery by a paved road.
The third sign was installed to indicate the entrance of the newer burial ground, the Howard Street Cemetery located on Howard Street, which was also founded in 1749. Due to land acquisition over time, the cemetery has grown to about 40 acres. Community Preservation Act Funds were used to purchase the three signs.