One of Hartford's true treasures is getting a more than $1 million renovation.
The 17-acre Old North Cemetery, which opened in 1802, has been deteriorating in recent years.
"The Old North Cemetery is the last resting place of every group that ever lived in Hartford - famous people, people of all religions, backgrounds and accomplishments," said Bill Hosley of Terra Firma Northeast.
The city of Hartford has committed to spending $1.25 million to restore the cemetery. And $250,000 of that money has already been spent on renovating walkways and adding trees to the grounds as well as restoring several significant grave sites such as ones belonging to the Colt family.
"Most of these brownstones were broken, some of the iron gates and elements had disappeared, the stones were cleaned, the gates were restored and it looks like a million bucks the way Sam Colt had intended it when he designed it in 1853," Hosley said.
The cemetery was virtually abandoned for years, and the years have taken their toll on the facility.
"There were years when they didn't even cut the grass," Hosley said.
A dedicated group of volunteers believe the repairs can be completed in time.
"My philosophy is you do it in increments," Hosley said. "You pick away at it, if you stick with it and do a little bit every year in 20 years. At the end of 20 years, you've got most of the job done."
In some cases, the outer shell of monuments have completely fallen off, but others have been saved.
"This involved a lot of complex restoration, and it was also cleaned and this should be good for another 100, 150 years," Hosley said.
In the end, Hosley said every site contains a wealth of history.
"The Old North Cemetery is the largest concentration of civil war veterans in the state," he said. "And again this site touches every cultural group that laid foot in the city."
Tours will be held at the Old North Cemetery on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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