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Master Plan For Restoring Richmond’s Historic Evergreen Cemetery Unveiled

Brett Glymph, executive director of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, speaking at Saturday’s master plan unveiling in front of a photo of Maggie L. Walker.
Brett Glymph, executive director of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, speaking at Saturday’s master plan unveiling in front of a photo of Maggie L. Walker. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)

The non-profit The Enrichmond Foundation unveiled a master plan for restoring Richmond’s Historic Evergreen Cemetery at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site on Saturday.

Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place of many prominent African Americans from the late 1800s, including Maggie L. Walker and John Mitchell Jr. The cemetery fell into disrepair for decades before volunteer organizations began removing vegetation, replacing headstones and documenting those who are buried there. 

John Sydnor, executive director of Enrichmond, said the master plan signaled a new era for the cemetery and thanked those organizations, like Friends of East End, who laid the groundwork.

“They have been the organizations and folks who have preserved and protected these sacred spaces before and during the creation of our master plan,” Sydnor said.

Last year, Evergreen Cemetery was recognized by UNESCO as a site of historic significance to the African American diaspora. 

The master plan includes fixing up headstones and monuments, and creating a new memorial meadow at the cemetery. It’ll be a multi-million dollar project. One of the biggest threats to the cemetery, stormwater runoff and erosion, could cost more than $200,000 to fix.

Enrichmond plans to launch a fundraising campaign later this year.

Viola Baskerville, a former state delegate and ancestor of some buried in Evergreen, called on the community to help Enrichmond and the other stakeholders begin the restoration process.

“Let us realize the plan,” Baskerville said. “The ancestors have waited far too long.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said at the unveiling Saturday that the city will help by repaving and upgrading East Richmond Road, which leads into the cemetery. 

“This means that we must collaboratively memorialize and transform these sites and places,” Stoney said. “We will invest our time and our resources so that the narrative is ever-present and never erased, never forgotten and never bulldozed over.” 

Henrico County is also expected to hand over land it owns to Enrichmond, between the Evergreen Cemetery and Interstate 64.

You can read the full master plan here.