BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s one of Baltimore’s most historic sites, but for years the Mount Auburn Cemetery sat in disrepair.
Monique Griego has more on the progress the community has made in bringing it back to life.READ MORE: Jury Notices To Be Sent Out Friday In Capital Gazette Murder Trial
With weeds higher than headstones and broken fencing, for decades the Mount Auburn Cemetery didn’t look like the historical treasure it was meant to be.
“It really did make you sad you had your loved ones buried here, but you couldn’t come and pay your respects here,” said Pastor Frances Draper.
For the first time since she was a little girl, Draper was able to walk up to her great-grandfather’s grave Monday.
It’s the result of a massive effort to clean up one of Baltimore’s and the nation’s oldest African-American cemeteries.
“In most recent years we could even get here because the weeds and brush were just so thick,” Draper said.
Governor Martin O’Malley and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were on hand to celebrate the transformation.
“This is a milestone moment,” said a community member.READ MORE: Downtown Partnership Releases Annual State Of Downtown Baltimore Report
The overgrown brush and weeds were replaced by trees and landscaped green grass.
“I think for the first time in decades I’ll be able to find their gravestones,” said Jeanne Hitchcock, Secretary of Appointments.
The cemetery is home to civil rights leaders, black soldiers and even sports heroes like boxing champion Joe Gans.
“Until now, many of those stories have been hidden by debris, by sticker bushes, by weeds and by blowing trash,” O’Malley said.
Church groups, students and community organizations helped with the renovations. But much of the recent work was done by inmates from the Department of Corrections.
“It’s wonderful now to see it all cleaned up. [It’s] a tribute to so many who worked so hard,” Draper said.
The Abell Foundation has awarded a $90,000 to help fund inmate labor at the cemetery for another year.MORE NEWS: Struggling Concert Venues Still Waiting On Federal Aid Promised In COVID-19 Relief Package
The community has also vowed to help maintain the renovations.