Submitted by Milda Richardson
This news item is based on an interview with Tim Orwig and the Sunday Gazette article by Rory Schuler, “Revisiting Shadows of the Past,” Nov. 1, 2015, pp. A1+7.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission recently approved the Berkley Common Historic District for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Four centuries of deceased are buried in the Berkley Common Cemetery, the heart of the proposed historic district.
Preservationist Timothy Orwig consulted with the Berkley Historical Commission, completed the research on the district, and presented the application to Mass. Historical. He took exceptional interest in the old burial ground and was quoted in the Taunton Sunday Gazette saying, “Given their age, number of carvers and exceptional craftsmanship, the gravestones in the Berkley Common Cemetery must be acknowledged as artistic treasures of the district.” The cemetery was established in 1758 and contains works by early stone carvers such as the Soule family, Cyrus Deane, Deacon Ebenezer Winslow, William Stevens, rare carvings John Bull completed as an apprentice, and about 30 stones attributed to a Berkley blacksmith. According to gravestone expert Vincent F. Luti, Winslow placed at least 30 stones and the Soule family about a dozen. The 4.4-acre cemetery is surrounded by a true New England rock wall dating from around 1850.
The town of Berkley, founded in 1735, was the center of anti-British sentiment in 1774-1775. Berkley Common and its cemetery, still in use today, are a rich, untapped resource for future scholarship.
Timothy Orwig earned his Ph.D. from Boston University’s American and New England Studies Program and teaches in the Art + Design Department of Northeastern University.