The university and Holy Trinity Church’s plans to restore Holy Rood Cemetery include installing ornamental iron fencing and enhancements to the entrance.
Georgetown and its neighbor Holy Trinity Catholic Church announced a plan today to restore Wisconsin Avenue’s Holy Rood Cemetery, including repairs to existing infrastructure and new enhancements to landscaping, the roadway and the cemetery entrance.
“Georgetown University appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with Holy Trinity Parish on this important work,” said Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., the university’s vice president formission and ministry. “The cemetery links our rich history not only with the Jesuit parish, but with the entire Georgetown community.”
Holy Rood Cemetery, located at 2126 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., on a hillside north of the university, was established in 1832 as Holy Trinity’s parish cemetery.
Named after the Scottish term “haly ruid,” meaning “holy cross,” the cemetery sits on six-and-a-half acres of land located a quarter mile northeast of the parish.
The last cemetery lot at Holy Rood was sold in 1915, and the site was closed to further burials in 1985.
Georgetown has maintained the grounds ever since, conducting landscape maintenance and headstone repairs. In 2002, the university rebuilt the stone retaining wall along Wisconsin Avenue. It also erected an entrance sign in early 2015.
The new plan includes cosmetic repairs to headstones, the resurfacing of roadways, the repair of the existing crypt exterior, the installation of ornamental iron fencing and enhancing the entrance hardscape and landscaping.
“Through our joint efforts, Holy Rood will become a Holy Garden where parishioners and others can pray for their deceased loved ones,” said Holy Trinity Pastor C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., “and where current and future members of our community can have a final resting place for their remains in this beautiful sacred space overlooking the city.”
Holy Trinity and Georgetown will establish a Perpetual Care Endowment for Holy Rood. There have been more than 7,000 burials at Holy Rood since its inception, including that of Revolutionary War veteran Joseph Nevitt and European immigrants who came to America in the 19th century.
There are also many marked burials of free blacks, including family members of the pioneering educator Anne Marie Becraft, in addition to unmarked graves of African Americans who were enslaved.
Future efforts around memorialization and historical study will take place in collaboration with a diverse set of stakeholders, including descendants of enslaved people buried at the site.