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Washington Neighborhoods
Monongahela Cemetery gains landmark status

Sunday, June 09, 2002

By Beth Hope-Cushey, Tri-State Sports & News Service

Tree-lined paths, green rolling hills and benches strategically placed are elements that helped gain national attention for the Monongahela Cemetery.

Because of its attractive landscape and design, the cemetery has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. The announcement was to be made yesterday at an open house at the cemetery.

Now that its nomination to the register is official, a fund-raising drive is being started for the restoration of the Civil War section where 72 veterans are buried.

Pittsburgh architect John Chislett designed the cemetery to be a rural setting within an urban area. The area is reminiscent of a park with its water fountains and benches.

In 1863, 32 acres were bought from John McClure for $1,040. The cemetery now boasts more than 160 acres, and more than half is available for future use.

Charles Talbert, an amateur historian who has led tours with the Monongahela Area Historical Society through the cemetery, said most parks aren't as beautiful as the cemetery.

"Years ago, people would visit the cemetery on a Sunday afternoon and picnic. Even today on any given day, people are walking their dogs through the park," he said.

Jack Cattaneo, secretary of the Monongahela Cemetery Board, said the cemetery reflects Monongahela's history, something that's important to preserve.

In 1881, the Monongahela Cemetery donated the land in the Civil War area to the Grand Army Republic Post 60. The veterans agreed to maintain and preserve the section, but with the passing of the veterans, maintenance has lapsed.

Cattaneo said $50,000 is needed to restore the section. The project is expected to be finished by next Memorial Day.

"We want the section to be put back to its original historic look," he said.

Donations can be sent in care of the Monongahela Cemetery, Cemetery Street, Monongahela, PA 15063.

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