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Help is needed preserving our cemetery and our history

Tombstones that face Waverly Avenue as they appeared Tuesday. (Michael White)

This is a message from The Greater Patchogue Foundation, Inc.


No doubt you’ve driven past the cemetery near Patchogue Lake, just west of the “Y,” but did you know?

Members of the Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist and Presbyterian congregations purchased a lot at Waverly and Main for thirty shillings in 1791, built a meeting house, the Patchogue Union Church, and started using the cemetery in 1794.

The cemetery contains graves of veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World Wars I and II and even the Vietnam War. The cemetery contains the graves of victims of an epidemic where all children in a family died within a few weeks, drowned sailors graves, and monuments celebrating the storied families of Patchogue — the Smiths, the Weeks, the Swezeys, the Conklins and others.

The cemetery is an historic jewel in our village.

Until recently, the cemeteries were neglected. Tombstones weathered and were vandalized, and Mother Nature took the landscape back to bramble and thicket. There are actually several cemeteries known today as: Union, Gerard, Rice and Old Episcopal, which contain over 900 graves, and the larger Lake View cemetery with over 400 headstones. A couple have been abandoned, and others have no means of support.

The Cemetery Restoration Committee started in 2006 by Steve Gill with volunteers working to restore grave stones and the lawns and to reclaim the landscape. What you see today, the beautiful gates and restored fences, represents the tireless effort of Steve and his team, as well as tens of thousands of dollars contributed by generous residents, businesses, foundations, New York State, and Suffolk County.

The Cemetery Restoration Committee seeks to continue its mission of restoration and preservation.

Specifically, we seek to:

  1. Make the Cemetery Restoration Committee the organization that will take stewardship of the cemeteries as part of The Greater Patchogue Foundation, with a budget and board of directors. A prerequisite of creating this organization is gaining an understanding of ownership and responsibility for the properties (essentially a title search).

2. Seek funding, contributions and grants, on an ongoing basis from individuals, businesses, government, foundations, and charitable organizations to restore the cemeteries, restore grave stones, and repair fences as well as to enhance the landscape to create an arboretum-like environment.

3. Finally, to create an endowment to provide for ongoing maintenance of the cemeteries and landscape in perpetuity.   

The Cemetery Restoration Committee is reaching out to the community seeking support for our cause. Please make a tax deductible contribution. No amount is too small. Make your check out to The Greater Patchogue Foundation with a notation directing the funds to the Cemetery Restoration Committee and mail the check to:

The Greater Patchogue Foundation

15 North Ocean Avenue

 Patchogue NY 11772

More on the cemeteries can be found at:    

 http://www.cemeteryrestorationcommittee.com/

 http://www.greaterpatchoguehistoricalsociety.com/index.php?id=88

Photo: Tombstones that face Waverly Avenue. (Michael White)


The Greater Patchogue Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in the State of New York. It is the nonprofit arm of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. Your contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

About the author: Greater Patchogue Foundation