Greenwood Cemetery Revitalization Wins National Award

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 15, 2010) – The American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) has selected the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Revitalization Project as the recipient of its prestigious 2010 Industry Award for demonstrating a commitment to “going above and beyond” to preserve the historical and cultural resources of the project site consistent with the community, officials of the Baltimore-based organization just announced.

Michelle Mardenborough, President of Philadelphia Healthcare Properties, said the board and all involved in the challenging project are “elated and humbled” by the honor bestowed by ACRA at its recent Annual Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. ACRA is the leading cultural resources management association in the country.

“We are proud of this honor and share it with everyone who worked so hard to successfully undertake the project in as careful and proficient a manner as humanly possible,” she explained. “This award recognizes the accomplishment of the project manager, Philadelphia Healthcare Properties Inc. (PHP), the technical teams – headed by Principal Archaeologist Rod Brown and his remarkable group from Louis Berger– as well as the Friends of Greenwood headed by Joanne Clare, the Northwood Civic Association, architect Ewing Cole and preservation contractor Hanson General Contractors.” Mardenborough, Brown, Clare, PHP’s Cornel Williams, and Project Architect Gretchen Pfaehler, of Ewing Cole, were among those in attendance to accept the award.

According to its nomination for the award, “The nominee went above and beyond the requirements of the project and, for that matter, the City of Philadelphia historic preservation requirements. While they seek no honors or accolades, they are most deserving for transforming their hope and vision into reality.”

The project included the necessary relocation of more than 2000 burials from the southern portion of the cemetery to an unoccupied northern portion, as well as the restoration of the entire 44-acre cemetery grounds and the main historic residence on the site. ERMC and its development team were “determined to ensure that the relocation project would be a model in every way, including community engagement. The public-private partnership listened intently and produced thoughtful operational plans,” stated the nomination.

By the time the burial relocation portion of the project was completed, 100,000 yards of imported fill was removed from the expansion area. Louis Berger directly managed a team of more than 40 archaeologists in removing and relocating on site 2,425 burials and grave markers. A network of roads and pathways will be rehabilitated and the nearly $1 million rehabilitation of the historic house in the Cemetery is expected to be completed before the end of 2010. While one the massive burial relocation portion of the overall project is now completed, there is considerable ongoing revitalization work underway to meet the needs of a caring community. Thousands of toppled and tilted stones are being righted; a granite monument in the reburial area displaying the names of all relocated individuals is to be erected; new perimeter iron fencing, gates and signage are being installed; the receiving vault is undergoing reconstruction, and the restoration of the old main house is nearing completion.

Joanne Clare, Director of the Friends of Greenwood and a member of the cemetery board, commented, “We are honored that the commitment of a professional organization such as PHP has been recognized for its dedication to the restoration of an historical cemetery and house, finally our ancestors can rest in peace. We hope that PHP will be the example and leader for the partnership between companies and cemeteries in future restorations.”

Mardenborough noted that the cemetery project is but one of many beautification initiatives that are a product of collaboration between the medical center, PHP, Friends of Greenwood, and dedicated civic organizations such as Northwood Civic Association. Other projects include: monthly landscaping and maintenance of the Castor Avenue circle; monthly cleaning and debris removal on Ramona Avenue; and regular cleaning and maintenance of Wyoming Ave. from Ramona St. to Castor Ave.

About ACRA

The American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA), founded in 1995, has been the trade association supporting and promoting the common interests of cultural resource management (CRM) firms of all sizes, types and specialties. ACRA is a non-profit association that supports the business needs of the diverse cultural resource management industry whose more than 140 ACRA members represent all aspects of the cultural resource industry including historic preservation, history, archaeology, architectural history, historical architecture, landscape architecture and specialty subfields such as geoarchaeology, soil science, and ethnobotany.