Greetings dear friends and family! I hope this update finds you well. As you may recall, our strategy to conduct an archaeological assessment of the Laurens Hill cemeteries stemmed in part from a requirement by the National Register of Historic Places nomination process. The formal application requires a site map which depicts the number and orientation of every burial. I have searched but never found any such drawing of either the Harvard Family Cemetery or the Laurens Hill Baptist Cemetery. Before the grounds were so heavily overgrown, a simple walking survey of the Harvard Cemetery could have produced a rudimentary if not professional map of the grounds, but many of the the graves in the Laurens Hill Church cemetery may be unmarked. The cost to perform the assessments and to produce the maps and plans were the object of our early fundraisers. The strategy was to create the documentation which would enable us to get the two sites listed on the National Register and leverage that listing to create and sustain a perpetual conservation and preservation program.
In discussions with the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Natural Resources, the Louisa Harvard Foundation determined that the first step should be the submission of a Preliminary Eligibility Application. The criteria for nominations are particularly strict, but we believe that by nominating the cemeteries as integral parts of a district which meets the criteria, we'll have a better chance of obtaining approvals. The Foundation, therefore, has submitted a Preliminary Eligibility Application to recognize the Laurens Hill Historic District which includes Laurens Hill (the house/plantation), the Harvard Family Cemetery, the Laurens Hill Church Cemetery, and the Laurens Hill Baptist Church. Collectively, we hope, the state will agree that these resources tell a unique and compelling story of the early pioneers of Laurens County worthy of preservation and investment. The entire application is available for viewing here. I'll post another update when we hear from the SHPD. Thanks again to all who have contributed money, time, and prayers. We are endeavoring to be proper stewards of your trust.