The Quogue Cemetery, which has gravestones dating back to the early 1700s, is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We think this is a great recognition of an important site in Quogue,” said Chester Murray, co-chairman of the Quogue Historical Society, referring to his group’s four-year quest to be added to the register.
Mr. Murray worked with Douglas Greeff, treasurer of the Quogue Cemetery Association, and Zach Studenroth, Southampton Town Historian, to add the cemetery to a group of historic burial sites located within Southampton Town.
Prior to their application, Mr. Greeff raised $2 million between 2008 and 2009 to purchase an additional acre for the property and renovate the existing gravestones and landscape. The new land was raised between four and five feet, according to Mr. Greeff, in order to make space for new plots. The space sits at the back of the property. The renovation also included adding a sprinkler system, trees and better sod to the property.
Once the renovation was complete, Mr. Murray and the historical society stepped in to begin the registration process.
Mr. Murray, who is also working to create a historic district in Quogue, said getting the cemetery registered was a relatively simple step. “This is part of a larger picture of burial grounds on the East End,” he said.
Since 2004, Mr. Studenroth has been spearheading projects to restore and protect various burial grounds. He worked for almost 10 years to get 10 town-owned burial sites onto the National Register. Through the New York State Historic Preservation Office, he created a multiple property registration form to add the properties to the National Register and submitted it in 2010. The document describes a group of historic properties that trace settlement patterns between 1650 and 1950. He said the document left room to add privately owned burial grounds and cemeteries that fit the description so that other properties in Southampton Town could be added at a later date.
Before the sites were recognized, however, Mr. Studenroth brought in students from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 to survey the cemeteries and their stones and document the deceased. That list is accessible on the Southampton Town website. Now that Quogue Cemetery is listed as part of the group, Mr. Studenroth wants to continue to get the other private properties on board. He estimated there are 40 others eligible to join the register.
To spread awareness about preserving burial sites, Mr. Studenroth said the town is hosting a demonstration workshop on June 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the cemetery behind the East Quogue Methodist Church. Mr. Studenroth will bring in experts to show people how to clean, repair and maintain gravestones.
Of the hundreds of people buried in the cemetery off Lamb Avenue, Mr. Murray boasted about one in particular. Admiral Alfred T. Mahan, a U.S. Navy flag officer, battle strategist and historian who lived from 1840 until 1914, is credited with developing naval strategies used during World War I. His biography cites him as one of the most influential men who lived in Quogue. His most famous written work, “Influence of Sea Power upon History,” is one of the major points in an exhibition focusing on Mr. Mahan now on display at the Pond House that is hosted by the Quogue Historical Society.