Southeast Portland

Historic cemetery desecrated by vandals - again

Historic cemetery desecrated by vandals - again »Play Video
Frank Schaefer, who works with Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery, demonstrates how easy it is to tip over a headstone that hasn't been properly secured.

PORTLAND, Ore. - It’s bad enough that someone vandalized a historic cemetery over the weekend in Southeast Portland.

It’s worse that it happens quite frequently.

Twenty headstones were knocked over and broken at the historic Lone Fir Cemetery either late Friday or early Saturday and a spokesman said officials are working with Portland Metro to make the area more secure.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened and the damage can be quite costly.

“A lot of times they’re knocked over and can be uprighted very easily,” Schaefer said Tuesday during a tour of the damage. “But a lot of times, unfortunately - like in the case of this one here - it was broken in like seven pieces.”

The cemetery was the only one in town for the first 40 years of Portland’s existence as a city.

Schaefer works with Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery, a group working to preserve and restore the headstones.

“All the history we have of the people that helped build the city. The street names, the building names, the bridge names and all the pioneers, the governors, the sheriffs … everybody that helped form the city into what it is is buried here,” he said.

“It’s a living outdoor museum of Portland’s history, and even Oregon itself.”

The group is looking for donations and volunteers as it works to restore damaged headstones and secure those that haven’t been toppled but are easy prey for vandals due to their age.

Schaefer estimated it will cost $200,000 to complete the project, funded through a program called “One Stone at at Time.” Schaefer’s group contributed $3,000, which Portland Metro matched, but there’s still a long way to go.

“I get very angry that someone … has that much disrespect for the deceased to come and desecrate someone’s grave,” Schaefer said. “Each one of these people here has a story. But it’s still the fact that somebody took the time to put up a stone to honor a loved one. You have people with no respect at all coming in and knocking stones down, and it makes me very angry.”