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Historic cemetery in Archer to undergo restoration

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 6:55 PM EDT
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ARCHER, Fla. (WCJB) - A historic cemetery in Archer will soon be getting a makeover thanks to a grant awarded to ‘Keep Alachua County Beautiful’ by the Weyerhauser Giving Fund.

The Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Cemetery was established in 1875 and built by freed slaves following the Civil War. Over the years, many of the headstones have become weathered and broken and the cemetery itself has fallen into disrepair.

In a press release, Keep Alachua County Beautiful said, “The BME Cemetery does not properly honor those who lie there, namely the African American slaves who hold great historical importance in North Central Florida and the United States.”

The cemetery has been under some form of restoration since 1999, when the Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Cemetery Restoration Organization held its first cleanup, but has struggled to get consistent funding.

The $2000 grant will go towards the removal of dead trees, maintenance and an overall restoration of the cemetery.

In 2019, the cemetery was added to the “Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s” “11 to save” list.

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