Restoring Central Neighborhood’s Woodland Cemetery

Restoration work on the 157-year-old Woodland Cemetery, a lush 60-acre island of calm, is underway led by a number cruncher by day who heads up the Woodland Cemetery Foundation.

Michelle Ann Day, along with volunteers, is restoring the original gatehouse, a $1.5 million project to rebuild the structure that once welcomed visitors entering from Woodland Avenue.

Day, in a story published in The Plain Dealer, talked about her passion for what one friend calls “the forgotten Cleveland” – the people buried there.

There’s Eliza Bryant (1827-1907), founder of the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People; Joseph Briggs (1813-1872), who developed the nation’s home mail delivery system; and John Patterson Green (1845-1940), who in 1892 became Ohio’s first black state senator.

There’s Robert Lipscomb, a 17-year-old boy who died in 1915 playing basketball at East Tech High School. He loved the Boy Scouts so much that his grief-stricken parents placed the Scouting emblem on his tombstone. And there’s Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson, who in January 1861, just days before the Civil War began, became the last person in the United States to be prosecuted under the Fugitive Slave Act, the federal law used by owners to reclaim runaway slaves.

Johnson is buried in an unmarked grave in section D-3, tier 1, grave 25. To find out how to volunteer, visit the Woodland Cemetery Foundation’s website.