HIGH POINT, N.C. – It might not be what you think as a place to bring a community together, but cemeteries can do just that.
“This is an amazing touchstone for a lot of people,” notes historian and preservationist, Benjamin Briggs, walking through Oakwood Cemetery in his hometown of High Point – a place he considers one of the city’s gems. “Genealogists sort of jokingly say that everyone has touches on North Carolina. And this being 150-year-old cemetery, it has a lot of genealogy here. There's a lot of history here.”
Oakwood was split between a private section, maintained by the owner through payments made by those who bought lots in it, and a public portion.
Over the years, some of the operation fell into disrepair, including the caretaker’s cottage that sits at the entrance.
“We've had conversations that the building might be considered for demolition,” says Briggs. “We thought that the building had too much utility left in it, still had some good miles in it. It's a beautifully detailed building, especially on the outside. So, we thought, instead of tearing it down, why not reuse it?”
And they already have ideas.
“One of our board members said it would be great to use as a genealogical resource center,” says Briggs. “We have 5000 interments here on the campus. Lots of people come from around the world to do research - genealogical resources. They have relatives that are buried here, ancestors. So why not create a computer center here that people can come and actually do genealogically a research here and discover their past.”
See Oakwood and why it’s so special to High Point, in this edition of the Buckley Report.