Cemetery Conservation Workshop at the P. J. Ahern Home


Graveyards are an important part of community history, but the challenges of preserving cemeteries can sometimes seem overwhelming. Join the Texarkana Museums System to learn how to conduct a survey and document the history of a cemetery. This free workshop begins at 1 p.m. February 29 at the P. J. Ahern Home in Historic Downtown Texarkana, USA. Those interested may sign up online at www.TexarkanaMuseums.org/events or call TMS at 903-793-4831.

Anyone interested in learning how to plan and implement a cemetery preservation project is encouraged to attend. “One of the challenges of preserving a cemetery is figuring out where to start,” says Jamie Simmons, TMS Curator. “Beyond the generalities of landscape clean up, most people just don’t know where to go from there. We will be discussing how to plan the next steps in the process.” Each participant will receive a packet with forms and other resources.

This free workshop is the first step in efforts to survey and document the historic Halls Cemetery, also known as the Old Salem Community Cemetery, a historically African-American cemetery located just outside of Texarkana, Arkansas. TMS is assisting Mrs. Israel Gamble in surveying and documenting the cemetery. TMS Board President, Velvet Cool expressed her gratitude for the cemetery owner for approaching TMS about this project. “Mrs. Gamble’s family is buried at this cemetery and she has, single handedly, begun the process of cleaning up and stabilizing the cemetery. We are excited to be able to assist her in the next phase.”

Over the next few months, TMS will continue the Halls Cemetery project with additional training sessions as well as fieldwork at the cemetery. Future programs will include a workshop on proper tombstone cleaning methods and tips on researching the history of a cemetery property. The public is invited to volunteer for any phase of the project to gain hands-on experience in cemetery preservation.

This workshop and the Halls/Old Salem Cemetery project were funded in part by a grant from the Black History Commission of Arkansas. For more information or to sign up for this workshop, please contact Jamie Simmons at 903-793-4831 or ahern@texarkanamuseums.org.

The Texarkana Museums System’s P. J. Ahern Home is 1905 Classical Revival mansion located at 403 Laurel street, in Historic Downtown Texarkana, Arkansas. The Ahern Home is a designated National Register landmark that hosts programs, exhibits, and community events every fourth weekend of the month.


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