Buckhead Heritage seeks to preserve and protect New Hope Church Cemetery on Arden Rd in Atlanta, Georgia thereby enhancing the community, embracing the cultural landscape, and generating increased interest in the Cemetery.
New Hope Cemetery is a cultural asset to the Buckhead community
The history of the church dates back over 150 years. After the congregation was formed in 1869, it was given land in the vicinity by a well-known Buckhead farmer. The National Register of Historic Places nomination form describes the acquisition of land:
“On May 29, 1872, James H. Smith, a white resident of the community of Buckhead … stipulated in his will that two parcels of his farmland were to be given for use as a church and school for “colored persons” — one acre for a schoolhouse and two acres for a church. He died eight days later, and thus the congregation of what is now New Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church became the legal owners of the property on which their church and cemetery stand.”
New Hope Cemetery is an important local example of a rural African-American cemetery. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with New Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has served the black Buckhead community as an educational, social, and religious center since the late nineteenth century. Now surrounded by a primarily white, affluent residential area, the church is located at 3012 Arden Road. The 1.86-acre cemetery is located across the street from the church and contains hundreds of graves. The first documented burial, based on church history and oral tradition, was in 1889.
The community’s late involvement with the Church includes numerous workdays and capital improvements for new signage, playground equipment, wheelchair ramp, and a new HVAC system.
Buckhead Heritage’s relationship with New Hope AME Church began in about 2007, working with Pastor Richards’ predecessor, the congregation, and the neighborhood. Our work as stewards of New Hope’s cemetery started in earnest a few years ago. We recently secured a $10,000 grant for Matt Matternes, Senior Mortuary Archeologist at New South Associates, Inc., to complete a comprehensive cemetery survey. His findings, A Historical and Archaeological Context for the New Hope AME Church Cemetery can be found on the Buckhead Heritage website at http://buckheadheritage.com/cemetery-overview-matternes/
Matt’s report documents the finding of 100 unmarked graves.
Why Invest in Buckhead Heritage’s work at New Hope Cemetery?
Needs represent those of the Congregation: Buckhead Heritage and Peachtree Road United Methodist Church volunteers have met with Pastor Richards better to understand the congregations’ wishes for the cemetery.
Missed Opportunity: Until recently, we have not known the actual history or extent of those buried in the Cemetery
Creating a Cultural Resource: Buckhead is sitting on an enormous, untapped resource. More than 650 historical and cultural assets have been identified within the community, including historic districts, historic architecture, pre-settlement sites, Civil War sites, and some of the oldest cemeteries in the entire City. Connecting our youth and neighbors to these sites has the potential to transform the whole community, providing a sense of place and history that is notably lacking.
Civic Infrastructure: With the Atlanta History Center anchoring the community and working in tandem with Buckhead Heritage and PRUMC focused on history, the organization has the civic infrastructure needed to leverage this resource successfully.
Buckhead Heritage and Peachtree Road United Methodist Church (PRUMC) lead the Way.
PRUMC and Buckhead Heritage are ideal partners to assist New Hope Cemetery’s cultural history. Each organization’s mission includes protecting the quality of life in Buckhead:
PRUMC Helps the people of Atlanta find their peace and their purpose within a Christian framework.
Buckhead Heritage strives to sustain Buckhead’s quality of life by identifying, preserving, and promoting its historic resources.
PRUMC and Buckhead Heritage bring complementary skills and expertise to this project, providing a deep understanding of Buckhead’s history and a strong background in leading large-scale community planning efforts.
PRUMC has enjoyed a long history and involvement with the Church and its Cemetery. PRUMC has hosted and sponsored numerous service projects at the Cemetery offering countless free volunteer man-hours for ongoing maintenance like weeding, leaf removal, and general maintenance. Of significant importance are PRUMC’s funding for the following initiatives:
Initial fence and gate installation
Subsequent fence repair
Downed and dead tree removal
Landscaping and beautification projects that are historically appropriate
Tree Permit acquisition and stump grinding
PRUMC’s efforts have been led by Beth Spencer, Director of Local Outreach and Volunteer Service. Beth’s connection and passion for the Church go back to her youth as she used to play at a friend’s house on Marne that backs up to the Church property. Both girls found the singing radiating from the Church enthralling!
Beth is supported by numerous volunteers that are active and involved in the Cemetery today. Mike Ivey, President Capital City Mortgage, has led many of the group’s landscaping efforts, dead tree removal, and boundary issues.
Strategic Alliances /Committee members
Pastor, David Richards New Hope AME Church
Beth Spencer PRUMC, Director of Local Outreach and Volunteer Services
Richard Waterhouse BHS Executive Director
Tamara Bazzle BHS Historic Cemeteries Chair
Ivan Allen BHS Board Member
Mike Ivey Neighborhood stakeholder
Michael Aquino Neighborhood stakeholder
Reggie Williamson Neighborhood stakeholder
Ashley Shares, Director of Preservation at Historic Oakland Cemetery
Matt Matternes Senior Mortuary Archeologist at New South Associates, Inc.
We are seeking funding for activities supporting this $27,000 initiative, including:
Gravestone restoration: $5,000
The front row of grave markers will be leveled and reinstalled.
Permanent Identification of 100 unmarked graves $4,000
Sites identified; rebar placed in the ground. At a future date, locate with metal detectors. Have scout troops install sand/gravel mixture and 6X9X4 Blue Ridge Georgia Marble blocks flush in-ground. No inscription or Unknown Adult or Unknown Child. Veterans Administration cemetery spec.