Feb 27, 2023 - Politics

Richmond mulls historic cemetery takeover

A view of Evergreen Cemetery earlier this month. Photo: Courtesy of Brian Palmer/brianpalmer.photos

City officials are weighing whether to take ownership of two historic Black cemeteries left in limbo by the collapse of the Enrichmond Foundation.

Why it matters: The properties, which sat unmaintained for decades prior to a community-led cleanup effort, are the final resting places of some of the city's most prominent residents, including Maggie Walker and John Mitchell.

What's happening: Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille introduced a resolution last week that would direct officials to explore the issue.

  • She told Axios she considers it the most logical way to ensure the properties are preserved.

The intrigue: Enrichmond's sudden collapse last year remains unexplained, and despite requests by City Council members, there's been no investigation, criminal or otherwise.

  • In addition to leaving the cemeteries in limbo, dozens of community groups lost more than $100,000 in donations that the foundation was holding for them.

What they're saying: Friends of East End, which spearheaded the original cemetery cleanup effort and was critical of Enrichmond's stewardship of the properties, says it supports city ownership.

  • "We have long urged the city and other levels of government to support community-led efforts to save East End and Evergreen," the group wrote in a press release.

What's next: At a meeting last week, council members continued the resolution for 60 days, saying more behind-the-scenes work needs to take place before they can move forward.


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