The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) awarded its most recent site preservation grant to the Eastville Community Historical Society.
The historical society will use the grant to support the preservation and community stewardship of the St. David African Methodist Episcopal Zion Cemetery, an important heritage site that represents the growth of a working class and diasporic community of African American, Native American and Irish immigrant residents in the 19th and 20thcenturies.
The Eastville community, part of the Sag Harbor National Historic District, is significant to the archaeology of free people of color and includes sites related to African American and Native American labor, land ownership, and religious practice following the abolition of slavery in New York State. Yet the neighborhood sites, including the cemetery, are often overlooked and increasingly threatened by modern development, encroachment, and natural erosion.
The society plans to use the AIA grant to physically protect the site and develop community education programs that promote and encourage stewardship by local residents. A portion of the grant will be used to delineate the boundaries of the St. David AME Zion Church Cemetery through the construction of a fence to protect the site from residential encroachment. The remaining funds will support public outreach through preservation-related events and archaeology education. Planned initiatives include restoration workshops, an Adopt-a-Grave program, and public lectures.