The cemetery is currently being restored by the Epiphany School & New Bern Preservation Foundation, 252-633-6448.
Headstones are worn by the elements and are very hard to read.
The restoration work on the historic Bryan-Fordham Cemetery is being accomplished by a four-member team. The team consists of the Students of the "Pepsi-Cola Kids" History Club at the Epiphany School, The New Bern Preservation Foundation, The Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, and the State of North Carolina Historic Restoration Office.
The History Club has been responsible for the historic research on the cemetery, and their work has won them two statewide awards in recognition for their accomplishments. The Epiphany School also provided a faculty advisor, Mrs. Cille Griffith, and other support. The Preservation Foundation and Swiss Bear have provided co-managers for project management. The NC Historic Preservation Office has provided archeological expertise to ensure the correctness of the work. All parties contributed to fund-raising and grant-seeking efforts. A number of contractors have contributed considerable "in-kind" work to ensure that the project comes in within budget.
Restoration information from Tom McGraw.
A long journey came to an end Friday, April 8, 2011, for 10th graders at Epiphany School as about 60 people watched them dedicate the renovation of an 18th century cemetery.
Five years ago, a group of Epiphany School sixth-graders undertook a project to save the Bryan-Fordham Cemetery on Queen Street, a 40-foot patch of burial ground for 15 people.
The renovation, which includes three new plaques, a brick wall that does not take away from the age of the cemetery and a manicured lawn was done by the students, adult volunteers and a number of groups — Swiss Bear Redevelopment, the New Bern Preservation Foundation and the N.C. Historic Preservation office.
The plaques include an entrance piece telling about the site, a second one identifying those buried there and a third one dedicated to the people who made the project a reality.
Tom McGraw, along with Buzz Mead, led the volunteer efforts. They were also honored by the students for their help.
Zane James, a student of Epiphany, said at the beginning of the project they held fundraisers, putting on skits and putting out penny jars throughout the community and raised $1,000. "As sixth-graders, we thought that was a huge amount," James said. "But we found out it didn't scratch the surface."
So the students looked at other ways to raise money, including grants, and were able to raise $17,450, James said. "We have spent it wisely and frugally," he said.
Kristin Peed, one of the 12 students who spoke to the gathering, said all of the students did a lot of research "until our 12-year-old minds were on the brink," she said.
Friday's dedication was one of the most rewarding experiences she has known, Peed said. "We have overcome doubt and frustration," she said.
McGraw said the project was the biggest thing that has occurred since the Epiphany school began five years ago.
He said he was proud that the school was giving back to the community and making it a better place. Then he challenged the community to tell Epiphany school how it could make the town even better.
Dana McLaughilin, a Epiphany student, said she hoped people would see the renovated cemetery and remember the significance of the place. "So much history goes unnoticed," she said. "I hope our work will make sure that it will never be forgotten again. It has been a group effort and I'm really glad we could see this day through. It has been a long process."
In 1753, Benjamin Fordham, who was a large landowner, dedicated the plot as a "burying ground forever." Not much more is know about it.
The students, under the guidance of teacher Cille Griffith, researched the Fordham family and have located descendants, some of whom have donated toward its restoration.
The students, members of the Pepsi Cola History Club, put on a show at the library five years ago, which drew more than 100 people and raised $1,000. The students presented a PowerPoint program on the cemetery, and had a costumed drama, in which each student said a few words on behalf of someone buried in the cemetery.
That attracted the attention of benefactors, and donations came in by way of grants and gifts from the Harold Bate Foundation, Craven Community Foundation, Minges Bottling, Christ Episcopal Trust and a number of local businesses, along with construction contractors.
A restoration specialist, John Wood of the N.C. Historic Preservation Office, provided technological and cost-savings suggestions during the renovation.
Wood, who is well-known for his assistance in restoration projects around New Bern, also gave classes to the students on aspects of the hand-made bricks and about artifacts that were gathered from the site.
Ford Parson, a Epiphany school student, said started on the project at the beginning. "I'm really proud of everyone and all the work we put in," he said. "It is a great feeling when you finish a big project. I hope everyone will respect this place."
Griffith was also proud of the students' accomplishments. She was a teacher at Epiphany when the project started, but has since become director of advancement at the school. "I think the students said it well (during their speeches) that as thy look back on this it will be on e of the best memories they have."
Ian Chiles, who also started the project as a sixth grader, said it has taken up one-third of his life.
From an article in the Sun Journal, New Bern, NC, April 8, 2011, by Eddie Fitzgerald. He can be reached at 252-635-5675 or at email@example.com
GPS Coordinates: 35.10723, -77.05091
- Added: 1 Apr 2001
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #401396
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