The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology is working to create a database of information on the headstones at Crown Hill Cemetery to encourage preservation. The project aims to survey and analyze each of the cemetery’s 190,000 stones, which would allow Crown Hill to begin restoration efforts.
Currently, the project is focused on surveying the oldest portions of the cemetery, which includes stones dating from the 1860s to the 1960s. Some stones may predate the 1860s, as certain stones have been moved to Crown Hill from other locations. The analysis for each stone involves photographing and conducting an overview survey.
Jeannie Regan-Dinius, a member of the Historic Preservation Committee for the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, said she felt this project was necessary for the conservation of the stones.
“They are doing such a great job with the mausoleums,” Regan-Dinius said, “But, the stones need some love too. I asked my boss if I could spend some time on it and she said yes. I work with cemeteries throughout the state as a part of my job, so it fell into my wheel house.”
Over 2,500 stones within the oldest sections of the cemetery have been surveyed so far, thanks to efforts by both DHPA staff and students from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Ball State University, the University of Indianapolis, and Indiana State University.
DHPA is working with the forms and photographs from the surveys to produce a database of information, analysis and suggestions for areas in immediate need. The database will include an overview description of each stone and an aggregate of each section, which will allow the cemetery to estimate expected restoration costs to set goals for fundraising efforts.
For more information on restoration efforts, visit the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation’s website.
Reporting by Katie Freeman, a Butler University student in JR411, Multimedia Newsroom, as part of a partnership between the magazine and Butler University.