Tolomato Cemetery holds dedication for new fence
Special to Historic City News
On Saturday May 7, 2016, the Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association hosted a dedication ceremony in recognition of the completion of a new ornamental fence and gate along the Cordova Street side of the property.
In the course of the project, the old chain-link and barbed wire fence was removed, a masonry wall was rebuilt, a new fence was added to the top of it, and a splendid hand-forged wrought iron gate was installed, topped by the name of the cemetery and a copper cross.
“The very first fence and gate were built some 220-years ago by my predecessor, Fr. Miguel O’Reilly,” said Fr. Tom Willis, pastor of the Cathedral Basilica. “He was the first parish priest of what is now the Cathedral.”
The gate was blessed and the cemetery was officially opened to visitors.
Scott Thompson, a St Augustine resident and Flagler College graduate, was the designer and creator of this beautiful 18th-century Spanish style wrought iron gate.
The overall design for the new fence and wall came from St. Augustine architect Don Crichlow, who is descended from several of the historic families whose names can be seen in the cemetery.
The event was well attended. Those in the audience listened to Elizabeth Gessner, President of the Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association, as she described the work and introduced the people who participated in this nearly four-year-long project.
Many descendants of people buried at the cemetery were in attendance.
Important institutional donors were recognized, including the Minorcan Society, represented by Carol Lopez Bradshaw, and the Rotary Club, represented by Katherine Battenhorst.
“The Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association is very proud of the beautiful work that finally gives the cemetery an entryway worthy of its history and of the people resting there,” Gessner told the audience. “Our thanks to all of the many people who helped in this achievement.”
A plaque honoring the generous 450th Commemoration donation made to the project by the Rotary Club is attached to the north end of the fence. Gessner can assist those interested in making a donation to future projects at the cemetery. You can reach her by calling 904-257-3273.