Preserving Pennsylania: A Journey Through the Last 20 Years, Part 12


2004 — Mount Moriah Cemetery,Delaware County

Delaware County

Located in southwest Philadelphia, Mount Moriah Cemetery is a park-like burial ground that was incorporated in March 1855 and developed along the “rural ideal” popular at that time. Growing to more than 380 acres and stretching into Yeadon, Mount Moriah is the final resting place for many notable Philadelphians and thousands of veterans.

Despite state law that requires at least 15% of the price of the sale of any cemetery plot to go to the cemetery’s “perpetual care fund,” there were insufficient funds to provide the level of ongoing care needed to maintain the cemetery in good condition. By 2005, the ornate brownstone gatehouse that marks the entrance to the cemetery had been boarded up and was overgrown with vegetation. Gravestones and monuments were largely indistinguishable in the tall grass and brush. The neglected, deteriorating acreage was attractive to vandals and people dumping garbage. Once a peaceful destination, Mount Moriah Cemetery officially closed in 2011, and the property was completely abandoned.  Efforts to identify the property’s owner and party responsible for care of the property have been unsuccessful to date, making the city’s efforts to enforce code violations or force action to maintain the property particularly challenging.

Today, Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery work hard with the goal of restoring and preserving the cemetery through research, education and community engagement. This grassroots organization holds regular clean-up days at the cemetery and welcomes volunteers to help clear the cemetery of weeds, tall grass and debris.

To support Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery in their efforts to preserve this cemetery, Please visit for more information on volunteer opportunities, or donate to the project.

• SAVED! •

2005 — Roxbury Bandshell, Cambria County

 Cambria County

Roxbury Bandshell was one of 27 public bandshells built throughout the U.S. by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s and was dedicated, in person, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA employed almost eight million workers to carry out public works projects, with a goal of providing one paid job for every American family in which the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment following the Great Depression. Representative of the extensive park and recreational contributions of the WPA program, this semi-circular limestone and brick amphitheatre is one of the last remaining of the original 27 WPA amphitheatres. To build the bandshell, Johnstown’s Community Association worked on planning and fundraising efforts from 1937-1939, before plans for the project were approved by the WPA.  Construction occurred in 1939, with well over 3,000 tons of materials and nearly 100,000 hours of labor being invested in the structure. The bandshell had not been maintained for decades and was deteriorating and faced with demolition in 2005. To provide more parking for Roxbury Park visitors, the City of Johnstown entered into a contract to demolish the Roxbury Bandshell and clear the site. Outraged, a group of citizens that later came to be known as the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance (Alliance) sought an injunction to delay the demolition. The $20,000 required to do so was provided by a local steelworker with fond memories of attending concerts in the park. Though the demolition of the bandshell was temporarily derailed, the City was still not yet committed to its preservation. As a result of negotiations and legal proceedings that took place in 2005 and 2006, the City gave the Alliance 18 months to make major structural repairs to the facility. The Alliance, whose goal is to promote Johnstown’s rich, diverse culture and heritage through a celebration of music, education and artistry at the restored Roxbury Bandshell, met all of the obligations of that contract. As a result, in November of 2007, the City agreed not to demolish the structure, and leased it to the Alliance for 20 years. By 2008, the Roxbury Bandshell had been saved. The Johnstown Redevelopment Authority received an $85,000 Keystone Historic Preservation Grant for use at the bandshell, and the Alliance was busy raising funds to match that grant, with donations being accepted via the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Public programming resumed in 2008, and has continued since then, with the Alliance maintaining and operating the historic bandshell in Roxbury Park.