An excerpt from the Evergreen Cemetery Advocacy In Action monograph prepared for the National Endowment for the Arts Grant upon completion of the 1994 Evergreen Cemetery Master Plan.
While history was a key component of the plan, it had to be balanced against other concerns such as present conditions, use and funding. It was clear from the beginning that it was neither possible nor desireable to literally restore Evergreen to its earlier appearance. The approach taken at Evergreen, as in most historic landscapes, was rehabilitation which retains the landscape as it has evolved historically while allowing additions and alterations.
Master plan recommendations addressed primarily landscape, development and administrative issues and did not deal in any detail with buildings and monuments. The recommendations fall into four broad categories which are summarized below.
- Landscape Character
- Like most historic cemeteries, Evergreen has changed subtly over time with loss or alteration of many of its important landscape features. The desire to strengthen Evergreen’s landscape character was an important goal of the project from the beginning.
- The circulation system, although deteriorated in many areas, provides the basic framework by which people experience and move through the landscape. Recommendations regarding access and circulation include: redefining entrances and the area along Stevens Avenue through plantings and narrowed pavement, creating an arrival/orientation circle at the office building, limiting vehicular circulation to bituminous roads and accentuating major circles as focal points within the circulation pattern.
- Vegetation was recognized as another important character-defining feature. Recommendations emphasized diverse, low-maintenance plant material appropriate to the period of historical development as well as the ecological conditions of a given area, plantings to screen adjacent land uses and reestablishment of flower beds at key areas.
- The ponds have always been central features and are recommended as a priority area for restoration with reconstructed bridges, gazebos and ornamental plantings. Recommendations regarding signage include: a comprehensive sign system with road, regulatory and interpretive signs as well as maps and interpretive brochures.
- Cemetery Development
- Evergreen continues to be an active public cemetery with an ongoing need to develop new interment areas. The master plan recommends innovative design solutions which respect the historic landscape character and natural areas of the cemetery while making efficient use of available space.
- Like all rural cemeteries, Evergreen must balance the needs of recreation with those of burial and mourning. Recommendations include: setting aside designated areas for active and passive recreation, expanding educational programs, enforcing cemetery regulations and establishing a trail system connected with the larger open space network of the City of Portland.
- Maintenance and Management
- Thoughtful maintenance practices can result in a cemetery that is not only more attractive but also more efficient to operate. Specific recommendations include: additional operating funds, careful assessment of maintenance priorities and improved drainage (especially at the ponds).
- Administration and Finances
- The financial strength of the cemetery has historically affected its ability to carry out its mission and will continue to do so. If Evergreen is to survive as a vegetated landscape, let alone undergo improvements, it must have an adequate and reliable funding base for operations and capital improvements. Strong support is needed from both the City and the community.