The South Farmington Friends Cemetery Association supports the historic and cultural preservation of one of Farmington’s most historic cemeteries and its structures, with a focus on the conservation and interpretation of Farmington’s history through special projects not funded through the cemetery’s operating budget. The proposed project involves the interior rehabilitation of the historic South Farmington Cemetery Chapel, building on and protecting successful exterior rehabilitation work completed over the past several years.
2018 and 2019 were breakthrough years for SFFCA. The current administration has brought the historic cemetery back from financial insolvency and has diligently worked to repair significant damage to the cemetery and chapel caused by the Tornado of 2015. In 2019, the SFFCA completed the Façade Restoration Project funded by a generous National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) Special Projects Grant, awarded during the previous grant cycle. With the awarded funding, we were able to replace the decking on the front porch with wood planks and stain it to appear more period appropriate. The porch foundation posts were stabilized, and the porch columns were restored to provide the needed structural support for the original porch roof. The existing period-inauthentic aluminum fascia on the front of the porch roof was removed and replaced with tapered wood trim. The windows on the façade of the building were also all repaired, which included the installation of new glass and the repair of the window grilles. The old, peeling paint on the front of the chapel was scraped and was completely repainted, which included the historic original scalloped front treatments that can be seen in historic photos of the chapel. The project was completed by our all-volunteer labor force, with no expenditure of grant funding used on labor.
The SFFCA conducted a “Shamrocks for Historic Preservation,” a unique take on the “Heart Bombing” campaign by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. During this event, the SFFCA sold shamrocks to the public to raise funds and awareness for the preservation of the chapel. The shamrocks were then placed on the chapel, with photos taken and submitted/published in the local newspaper to highlight the plight of the chapel. SFFCF hosted a flag dedication ceremony with the Canandaigua Chapter NSDAR in June 2019 as another way to raise awareness for our projects and highlight DAR’s important role in assisting us with our efforts. SFFCA hosted its second annual historic cemetery tour fundraiser in October of 2019, where the public purchased admission to the historic cemetery and were again greeted by volunteer reenactors who were interpreting the life story of several of Farmington’s most famous residents buried in South Farmington Cemetery. SFFCA hosted two (2) pancake breakfast fundraisers in 2019 to raise the matching funds necessary for grants like this one from NSDAR. Despite the pandemic, we were able to think outside the box, hosting a drive thru ice cream social fundraiser in the summer of 2020. We were also able to host our socially-distanced third annual historic cemetery tour on halloween of 2020. Finally, SFFCA hosted its third annual Wreaths Across America event in December of 2020 where SFFCA, DAR and community volunteers placed wreaths on the graves of each of the seventy-five (75) veterans interred at South Farmington Friends Cemetery, as well as 225 other veteran graves in the Town of Farmington. This included several Revolutionary War graves in the historic Hathaway Cemetery. All wreaths were sponsored by generous members of the public and placed by volunteers. The SFFCA was awarded another NSDAR Grant in April of 2020 for the replacement of the period-inauthentic metal roof currently on the chapel, leveraging the funds donated previously donated by NSDAR for the preservation of the facade and further protecting their investment. The roof was severely damaged by the 2015 tornado and has subsequently allowed water leakage and animals (birds) access to the interior of the building, causing severe damage to the interior. Replacement of the roof was completed in the summer of 2020. In 2021, new insulation, drywall and paint was installed in the interior, funded by a generous grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation.
Much work remains, including the replacement of the electrical and heating systems, the construction of a kitchenette and ADA-accessible rest room in the rear of the chapel and the installation of a septic system so that the building can be returned to full use as a community meeting space, museum and historical landmark that we hope to list on the National Register of Historic Places.
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