Cemetery Committee

Since its origin in the early 1600’s, Portsmouth has never stopped changing and rebuilding. Old houses and buildings have constantly been demolished or moved to make way for residential and commercial development. As the city grew around them, the old burial grounds and cemeteries of Portsmouth went through long periods of neglect and intermittent repair before their care was entrusted to a group of local volunteers, the Cemetery Committee, who now work with the City's Parks & Greenery Division to protect and preserve these historical assets.

HISTORIC CEMETERIES HEADSTONE CLEANING OPPORTUNITIES – The City Cemetery Committee will again invite volunteers to join the guided historic headstone cleaning effort in North Cemetery on Maplewood Avenue in the spring of 2023. There will also be dates reserved for groups.


Cemetery Committee


The Cemetery Committee was created by the City Council in 2021 with the responsibility of encouraging the restoration, preservation and safeguarding of Portsmouth’s historic cemeteries and their history for future generations.

The Cemetery Committee ordinance establishes that:

A.                                   Membership and Term:

Membership and Term: The Cemetery Committee shall consist of not less than seven (7) or more than eleven (11) regular members.  The members shall be appointed by the Mayor subject to the approval of the City Council.  The first four (4) members appointed after adoption of this ordinance shall be appointed to terms of three (3) years commencing as of the date of completed appointment.  Thereafter, all appointments shall be for terms of two (2) years.  All appointments to fill vacancies shall serve the remainder of the vacant term.  A quorum shall be a majority of the existing appointed members at any given time. (Amended 05/01/2023)

B.                                    Powers and Duties:

The Committee shall provide advice and recommendations to the City Manager and the City Council with respect to all issues affecting municipal cemeteries, including the solicitation and acceptance of grants; the expenditure of any funds for specific improvements; and any expenditures from the Cemetery Trust Fund. Nothing herein shall limit the power of the City Council or City Manager to take immediate action in the event of exigent circumstances.

C.   It shall be the responsibility of the Cemetery Committee to encourage the restoration, preservation, and safeguarding of Portsmouth’s historic cemeteries and their history for future generations.

2013 Existing Conditions Assessment Report

Presentation to City Council (April 18, 2022)

For more information about Portsmouth's Historic Cemeteries and the African Burying Ground Memorial, click here.

Committee Members:

Eva Boice

Celeste Brooks

Deirdre Forte, Co-Chair

Michael Griffin

Duncan MacCallum

Sue Polidura

Peter Splaine

Susan Sterry, Co-Chair

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