Two saplings planted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground were recently severed at ground level by a vandal with a saw. The intentional destruction of the irreparably-damaged oak and elm occurred in separate incidents over a two-week period, the last one likely carried out between Wednesday, July 10 and Friday, July 12 when severe nighttime thunderstorms and showers blanketed the Boston area. The Freedom Trail site at Copp’s Hill, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, is the city’s second oldest cemetery founded in 1659.
Since 1995, the burying ground has been targeted by repeated waves of vandalism, specifically the gouging and toppling of 10 trees within the perimeter wall and additional ones felled at the Copp’s Hill Terrace below. The cost of planting the oak and elm saplings, including the drilling and excavation of old stumps, and installation of new tree pits by a private landscape company amounted to $8,000 allocated from the limited budget of the park department’s Burial Ground Initiative according to Tom Schiavoni, chairperson of the Friends of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground who volunteer as park partners.
City officials are requesting that archival videotape footage, still preserved and stored on building security devices from the week of July 8 to July 12, be reviewed by property owners and managers for signs of vandalism activity in the vicinity of lower Charter and Snow Hill Streets adjacent to the back gate of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.
A history of vandalism incidents dating back to 1995 can be found at this link to a memorandum from the files of the Friends of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.
Information relevant to the investigation underway can be directed to Kelly Thomas, Historic Burying Grounds Initiative, Boston Parks and Recreation Department, 1010 Massachusetts Ave., Third Floor Boston, MA 02118, 617-961-3034.