Houston's Olivewood Cemetery named one of America's most endangered historic sites

Chaz Miller Image
Friday, May 6, 2022
Houston cemetery considered 1 of America's most endangered
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The cemetery has been maintained since 2003 by the Descendants of Olivewood, but flooding is a major problem with the upkeep of the historic site.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Olivewood Cemetery is one of the oldest African American cemeteries in the city of Houston. It was incorporated in 1875 and has been named an endangered historical site due to flooding.

"We've experienced more than 10 feet of water in this cemetery, which has a detrimental effect," said Descendants of Olivewood board member JasmineLee.

Descendants of Olivewood have meticulously maintained the cemetery since 2003, but it was included on the 2022 list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"The community spreads three centuries," said Lee. "These people experienced slavery, experienced emancipation, and chose this spot as their final resting place."

Lee cited the dislodging of headstones, the shifting of burial plots, and significant erosion on the cemetery's north side as the impact flooding has had on the property located near White Oak Bayou and Studemont Street near The Heights.

"We're in danger of losing some of the final resting spots of some people buried here," Lee explained.

A study is currently being conducted that is working towards coming up with measures to save those plots and prevent future damage caused by floods.

For those looking to help the cemetery, you can attend a workday to help clean the cemetery each month from 9 a.m. to noon. The next workday will be Saturday, May 7.

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