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Cemetery for Jewish Immigrants Could Receive National Historic Designation

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 20, 2016 5:08pm
 Silver Lake Cemetery was nominated to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Silver Lake Cemetery was nominated to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

GRYMES HILL — A cemetery that opened more than 120 years ago to give religious burials to poor Jewish immigrants has been nominated to become a nationally important site.

Silver Lake Cemetery, at 962 Victory Blvd. on Staten Island, was one of 26 New York State properties being considered for inclusion in the State and National Historic Places Register, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

"New York’s history is this nation’s history and we are leading the way to preserve the sites of significant events for future generations," said Cuomo in a statement.

"The nominations of these sites will help ensure that these parts of this state’s rich heritage remain viable and able to serve as destinations to attract visitors to every corner of this state."

The 26 sites were put forward for consideration by the state. They need to be approved by the Historic Preservation Office before going on the State's Registry, then the applications will move to the National Register for approval.

The cemetery started burials in 1892 and was the first graveyard opened by the Hebrew Free Burial Association, according to the state.

The group formed to give primarily poor Jewish immigrants who did not belong to a burial society or synagogue a place to have a religious burial.

Silver Lake Cemetery held about 13,000 people when it closed in 1909, according to its Historic Registers application. The group then started the Mount Richmond Cemetery in Richmond Town.

The majority of the early burials were small children and women from the Lower East Side whose deaths were caused by the squalid conditions they lived in, according to the application.

The original gravestones for the deceased were very simple, but many family members later returned and replaced them with more ornate stones.