By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Behind every headstone is a story. Inscribed on many are short biographies, with stories of revolutionary war soldiers, women who did in childbirth, and founding fathers of Northborough.
The restoration of 107 historical grave markers in the Howard Street Burial Ground, founded in 1749, was completed last spring.
Norm Corbin, a member of the Northborough Historic District Commission, explained that the cemetery is within the Meeting House Common Historic District. The commission put in a request for the $78,000 required funding over three years ago.
Once the funding came through, DPW Director Scott Charpentier was the overseer of the project. “There were two parts to the project, so the first thing that had to be done was have the stones inventoried which was done in 2013,” he stated. “There are 163 grave markers in this area and they had to be inventoried to see what the status was of each stone.”
Each portion of the project was funded through the Community Preservation Act (CPA). The town contracted with Gravestone Services of New England of Bedford, N.H., for the assessment and with Westmill Preservation Services of East Falmouth for the restoration.
Each of the grave markers was examined and ranked according to priority of need.
“A lot of the stones were cleaned but not all them,” noted Corbin.
Those that were repaired were pulled out, straightened and in some cases new slate was added to the bottom to reinforce the stones before being re-set. Many can now be read more clearly, too.
Each grave marker was photographed before and after and digitized for documentation in a final report which can be accessed at Town Hall.
When asked why he thought it was important to do this, Corbin replied, “Well, they are really the town’s ancestors and it’s a cemetery and I think we need to be respectful of our cemeteries, and our history.”
He further added that the commission was thrilled to receive the funding to get this project done and he hopes that people will come and walk through the cemetery.