Mount Zion Cemetery in the Georgetown Section of Washington, DC Placed on Endangered List

The Mount Zion Cemetery in Georgetown, one of the oldest remaining African-American cemeteries in Washington, DC, has been placed on the list of this year’s “Most Endangered Places in Washington” by the D.C. Preservation League.

A crumbling African-American cemetery in Georgetown and a vacant embassy building in Sheridan-Kalorama are among the six properties highlighted on this year’s “Most Endangered Places in Washington” list.

The D.C. Preservation League has released the list annually since 1996 to publicize notable sites in the city threatened by neglect, demolition or alteration. The league says this strategy has achieved some success — several “Most Endangered” properties from years past have since been restored or preserved, including the Howard Theatre and the D.C. War Memorial.

For the 2012 list, all but one of the sites are located in Northwest D.C., including two in Georgetown.

The Mount Zion Cemetery is tucked behind an apartment complex in northern Georgetown, adjacent to the better-known and -maintained Oak Hill Cemetery.

Technically, the property at 27th and Q streets comprises two burial grounds — the original Old Methodist Burying Ground, which dates back to 1808, and the Female Union Band Cemetery, established in 1842.

The site, recognized as one of the oldest remaining African-American cemeteries in Washington, is “now in a state of disrepair,” according to the preservation league. “[H]eadstones are broken or missing, vegetation grows unchecked, and the sign marking the cemetery has disappeared.”

A board of trustees, however, hopes the preservation league’s attention will help speed its planned restoration and improvements at the memorial park. “We feel like it’s going to enable us to proceed with seeking grants and other sources of funding to develop a vision for the area and try to restore it to its historical purpose of honoring our deceased,” said board member Neville Waters, who has ancestral links to the cemetery.

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