“If [nineteenth century rural cemeteries] are truly to survive, our mission should be to broaden the awareness and application of a cemetery preservation ethic nationwide. We must not only expand and strengthen consistent and wise preservation practices for historic cemeteries, but also promote their preservation as open spaces.” Charles Birnbaum
In 2010 the Friends of Evergreen wrote and received two grants from the Maine Community Foundation and the Davis Family Foundation to study a parcel of land in Evergreen Cemetery, adjacent to the Brentwood Street entrance, which had been neglected and overgrown until recently when a portion of it was leased by the City of Portland to the Deering Center Neighborhood Association as a temporary community garden for five years.
At 239 acres, Evergreen is the largest Victorian garden cemetery north of Boston and one of the largest open spaces in the City of Portland. The 1994 Evergreen Cemetery Master Plan, which was adopted in 2002 as part of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan, designates the Brentwood Parcel as a high priority area for future development. The community’s desire to use the land in a productive manner until it is needed for burial space, provided an opportunity for the Friends, with input from the neighborhood organization, to partner with the City in creating a more detailed long-term vision for development of burial space in the Brentwood Parcel.
Professional landscape architect, Tanya Seredin, incorporated the recommendations of the 1994 Master Plan for development of the Brentwood Parcel, and the short-term needs of the Brentwood Farms Community Garden in the conceptual design of the 2010 Master Plan.
The Brentwood Advisory Board, comprised of two members of the Friends of Evergreen, two members of the Deering Center Neighborhood Association, two members of the Cemetery staff, two members of the City staff, and 2 members from the historic preservation community, worked collaboratively at three advisory board meetings between February and April, 2010.
After two widely advertised public input meetings at the Wilde Memorial Chapel, and other public forums, the 2010 Brentwood Master Plan was unanimously approved by the Portland Historic Preservation Board on September 15, 2010, and unanimously approved by the Portland Planning Board on January 11, 2011.
After approval by the Portland City Council, the Brentwood Parcel will have an official guiding plan for it’s future development and protection.