by Leslie Alwiel
Spring is here in Savannah and in Bonaventure Cemetery and it’s a great time to visit. The camellias and azaleas are blooming all over the place, prompting me to update folks on what is going on with Bonaventure Historical Society and the cemetery.
First, thanks to all of you who have downloaded our Bonaventure Cemetery Tour app. We receive $3.50 from the $4.99 charge to use towards restoration efforts. The app is available on both Apple iTunes and Google Play and formatted for phone and tablets. If you haven’t seen the app take a look!
We have also updated our website and would love to hear your feedback on the new format.
Most importantly, with Hurricane Matthew behind us and good weather around us we have begun restoration efforts on Dr. Richard Arnold’s plot. This is the second major restoration project Bonaventure Historical Society has partnered with the City of Savannah to complete. The first was the family plot of Peter Wiltberger, one of the creators of the original Evergreen Cemetery.
Dr. Richard Arnold was Mayor of Savannah and a well-respected doctor who is best remembered as the man surrendered the city to General Sherman to prevented its destruction. He was also well-known for his studies of tropical diseases, particularly yellow fever. He helped found the American Medical Association, the Medical Association of Georgia and Georgia Historical Society. He died during the yellow fever outbreak of 1876.
The Marker at the grave for Dr. Arnold is very simple headstone. The marker for his wife is much more elaborate and there’s a large obelisk the city had sponsored as a tribute to Arnold.
The restoration work is extensive and the Conservation Coordinator for City of Savannah’s Department of Cemeteries, Mr. Sam Beetler, takes historical preservation seriously. The repairs will be done using materials and techniques appropriate for the era.
The repairs will involve taking down the existing wall and rebuilding it using a limestone and sand mortar then covering the wall with a stucco using techniques and materials in accordance with the time period it was originally done. The work will also include stabilization of one grave headstone that is in danger of toppling.
As you can imagine the cost of this effort is high and is expected to be around $20,000.00. We are looking for additional assistance in raising the money to fully cover the expenses and would appreciate a donation from those who are interested in helping.
To donate: Go to our website Donate page, click on Contribute, fill in the information requested once you submit you will get the option of PayPal or Credit Card. Or you can mail a check to BHS, PO Box 5954, Savannah GA 31414.
All donations are tax deductible – we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.