Friends of Geer Cemetery
Restoration Awareness Ceremony
Saturday, June 22nd, 2019
800 Colonial Street
Durham, NC 27701
Geer Cemetery is one of the first Black Cemeteries of Durham. “Friends of Geer Cemetery” is a volunteer group with goals of restoring the cemetery to honor the legacies of those laid to rest.
Join us for:
- Discussion of the history of Geer, and plans of action
- Walking tour of the cemetery
- Guest Speaker
- Unveil a revived tombstone
- Libation Ceremony performed by Dr. E. Victor Maafo
The Restoration Celebration at the Geer Cemetery, 800 Colonial Avenue, will happen on Saturday, June 22, at 11:00 a.m. If you are interested in Durham history or old cemeteries, you will really enjoy this event.
The Geer Cemetery is perhaps the single most important artifact of Durham’s African-American community from the city’s earliest years.
Soon after the City of Durham was founded in 1869, officials of the new city set about creating a publicly maintained burial place for white citizens. Maplewood Cemetery opened in 1872. No equivalent cemetery was created for Durham’s African-American residents. In 1877, African-American leaders in the community purchased a few acres from the Geer family to serve as a cemetery for African-Americans. From 1877 until 1925, when the city finally created Beechwood Cemetery, the Geer Cemetery served as Durham’s primary burial place for African-Americans. The cemetery remained open until the 1930s, but fell into disuse and neglect after that. Trees and dense undergrowth took over and markers in the cemetery fell or were knocked down. Beginning in the 1990s, various groups began work to clean up the cemetery and draw attention to its plight. The Friends of Geer Cemetery grew out of these efforts and is now working to preserve the cemetery and rediscover its history.
The Restoration Celebration will include a libation ceremony of remembrance and stories of some of the people buried in the cemetery. Ron Bartholomew of Durham Marble Works will re-erect a gravestone toppled and buried long ago. Volunteers will be on hand to record information and memories about the cemetery from descendants and the community. There will be a food truck and visitors will be encouraged to linger and discover the history, serenity, and beauty of the Geer Cemetery for themselves.
The cemetery is located one block east of Avondale Avenue on the edge of the Duke Park neighborhood at the corner of Camden and Colonial Avenues.