Unlock and Re’Imagine Historic Abandoned Cemetery in Jackson Heights!
If Caleb Leverich were alive today, he’d be celebrating what’s happening above his tomb.
The son of an English minister who immigrated to Queens in 1633, this prominent local son built a colonial homestead and family burial ground in the vicinity of 71st Street and 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Sometime in the mid 1800s, his descendants moved away, and the house burned down in 1909. The cemetery was excluded from the development in the 20th century, but the abandoned site became a dumping ground. Weeds sprang up, the headstones disappeared, the fence fell into disarray, and feral cats got territorial.
Now, volunteers are breathing new life into the grounds. On August 15, more than 40 local activists, guerrilla gardeners, and artists spent the day picking up trash, planting sunflowers, and discussing possible uses of the land as part of a volunteer service day organized by Híbridos Collective.
The fun will continue this Saturday, August 22, with Unlocked and Reimagined, a full day of “cross-pollination” activities, including gardening, a public art installation, community dialogues, and live entertainment with help from the Queens Council on the Arts.
Lina Montoya and the Ele Eme Project will set up her butterfly installation Mariposas Amarillas. Local artists Carlos Martinez and Beatriz Gil will host a community dialogue on reimagining the venue. The New New Yorkers Program will present Social Practice 101 with Sol Aramendi, a Spanish conversation about art and community engagement. And at the same time, volunteers will design and plant new flower gardens.
The re-magining will continue on the following Sunday, August 29, with related activities. The main activity for Aug 29 is the unveiling of a mural in the entrance of the burial ground by a local artist. For more details or to volunteer, click here.
All photos from Híbridos Collective