AIA Site Preservation Grant Awarded to Historic Cemetery in New York
April 9, 2013

Visitors tour the St. David AME Zion Church Cemetery at Sag Harbor.
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BOSTONApril 9, 2013—The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) awarded its most recent Site Preservation Grant to the Eastville Community Historical Society (ECHS), a grassroots neighborhood-based organization in Sag Harbor, New York. The ECHS will use the grant to support the preservation and community stewardship of the St. David African Methodist Episcopal Zion Cemetery, an important heritage site that represents the growth of a working class and diasporic community of African American, Native American, and Irish immigrant residents in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Eastville community, part of the Sag Harbor National Historic District, is significant to the archaeology of free people of color and includes sites related to African American and Native American labor, land ownership, and religious practice following the abolition of slavery in New York State. Yet the neighborhood sites, including the cemetery, are often overlooked and increasingly threatened by modern development, encroachment, and natural erosion.

ECHS plans to use the AIA grant to physically protect the site and to develop community education programs that promote and encourage stewardship by local residents. A portion of the grant will be used to delineate the boundaries of the St. David AME Zion Church Cemetery through the construction of a fence to protect the site from residential encroachment. The remaining funds will support public outreach through preservation-related events and archaeology education. Planned initiatives include restoration workshops, an Adopt-a-Grave program, and public lectures. Programs will be aimed at both school groups and community members. Through these comprehensive education and preservation initiatives, the ECHS will bring to light the rich historic heritage of the community while ensuring its protection for future generations.

About AIA Site Preservation Program and Grants

The AIA Site Preservation Program emphasizes outreach, education, and the spread of best practices in site preservation. The Program supports projects in Belize, Cambodia, Chile, Crete, Cyprus, Guatemala, Israel, Ireland, Kenya, Jordan, Mexico, Montserrat, Peru, Syria, Turkey, and the United States. In addition to awards and grants, the program includes advocacy to stop the destruction of archaeological sites; informs U.S. Troops of cultural materials they may encounter while deployed; presents outreach activities for children; maintains online resources for the public and professionals; and hosts workshops. All aspects of the program, including the awarding of grants, are made possible through donations to the AIA Site Preservation Program. To learn more, please visit archaeological.org/sitepreservation

About Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)

Founded in 1879, The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is North America's oldest and largest archaeological organization. Today, the AIA has nearly 250,000 members and 110 local societies in the United States, Canada, and overseas. The AIA exists to promote archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past worldwide by promoting research; advocating for preservation of the world’s archaeological heritage; and educating people of all ages.

For more information and images please contact:

Kelly Lindberg, AIA Site Preservation Program Administrator—klindberg@aia.bu.edu 617-358-6098

Ben Thomas, AIA Director of Programs—bthomas@aia.bu.edu  617-353-8708

To find out more about Sag Harbor and the Site Preservation Grant at work there, visit: http://www.archaeological.org/projects/sagharbornewyork

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