Old Burying Ground

National Register of Historic Places - 1972

Physical Appearance
Norcom Plot - Patch Company, Boston 1865
1970 Photo by Tony P. Wrenn
Introduction to Porchscapes
1972 Nomination File Photo
1972 Nomination File Photo
Contemporary Photo

The Old Burying Ground, where Beaufort’s citizens have been buried for well over two centuries, is, even for the quiet town of Beaufort, an unusually peaceful, shady place where a sense of the past is especially strong.

The cemetery is located in the block between Ann, Craven and Broad streets and measures at its greatest expanse 440 feet by 266 feet. It is roughly in the shape of a rectangle with an L-shaped extension to the north and a central square projection to the south. Three churches border the cemetery. It is surrounded by a concrete wall, which has recessed panels between posts topped by simple spheres. The burying ground is shaded throughout by many gnarled old trees, notable among which are live oaks whose branches are covered by resurrection ferns, which revive after each rain. Instead of the usual smooth grassy expanse, the ground is covered with fallen leaves, among which grow ivy and other vines. A profusion of azaleas and naturalized daffodils bloom in the spring.

The cemetery is rather crowded with markers, which follow a variety of designs, including table stones, obelisks and official military markers. The best know is that of Otway Burns, a naval hero in the War of 1812. His grave is marked by a large box-like stone, in the top of which is embedded the canon from his privateer Snap Dragon.

Many of the older graves have simple vertical cypress slabs—of some seventeen designs in all, each with a weathered, lichen-spotted texture. Another common grave treatment is the construction, in front of a stone marker, of a sort of grave cover of brick, usually about two feet in height, which protects the grave from being washed out in the sandy soil. Some are rounded and some are of a gabled configuration, but all run approximately the length of the coffin beneath—whether a tall man or a small child—providing a vivid and somber reminder of those who lie buried. These occur singly, but more frequently are lined up in family groups.

Many of the family plots are surrounded by handsome wrought and cast-iron fences. Probably the most outstanding is that enclosing the Norwood [Norcom] plot, which was manufactured by S. Patch of Boston in 1865. Round arches adorned with volutes support the narrow railing. Spiral posts with elaborate finials flank the gate, which features entwined scrolls, flowers and leaf motifs. MORE...