Preservation Of Historic Cemetery

In the spring of 2017, I partnered with the Medical Lake Cemetery Association to have the Medical Lake and Jerue Cemetery placed on the state historic register. I submitted the package in the fall of 2017 to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The package came back corrected with a request for my input on additional revisions. I sent back my ideas and the final nomination package went forward to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. This nomination package was important to the Medical Lake Cemetery Association because a listing on the state register would bring with it historic protections for the 1,108 graves on the property.

The historic Medical Lake Cemetery contains sixty-two veteran interments: 23 from the American Civil War (all Federal soldiers), World War One, World War Two, the Korean, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf Wars. The earliest headstone predates the formation of the cemetery and dates to 1864 (the burial of Frederick M. Boissonnault). It also contains the remains of the cities original booster Stanley Hallett. 

The Jerue Cemetery (established separate from the Medical Lake Cemetery, now owned and overseen by the Medical Lake Cemetery Association) has 101 known graves. The oldest burial is from 1924 (the burial of “Baby” Dennis – July 12, 1924). Based on an analysis of death dates, there is a high number of burials from 1930 (40%), with many of which likely have a connection to the County Infirmary in Spangle. The newest burial is from 2010, Mrs. Jospehine “Jo” Marinaro O’Donnell, whom was buried beside her husband.


In February of 2018, I received a letter inviting me to attend the review meeting to be held in early March in Seattle. The President of the Medical Lake Cemetery Association was unable to attend the meeting but I went. The Council voted unanimously (8:0) to add the cemetery to the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places. 

A few days later the local newspaper, the Spokesmen Review wrote an article about the project here.

In May of 2018, the Jonas Babcock chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, located in Spokane Washington, presented me with a certificate for “Outstanding Work in American History.”   

My work was not done, I wrote, with the assistance of Connie Cada the association’s secretary, a capital grant package for the cemetery. The grant is funded by Washington state and overseen by the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. It was my hope that the cemetery’s recent addition to the state register would make it more competitive for preservation grants. On August 7, 2018, I received word that the grant was funding $27,874.80 worth of projects at the Medical Lake cemetery. The funded work began in fall of 2018. Connie wrote an article about the work she and I did for the summer 2019 issue of This Place (page 26-7), a publication produced by the Washington Trust For Historic Preservation. With my permission, she used some of the paragraphs from this website. 

In addition to funds for items such as repairing the headstones and maintaining the road, the grant allowed for interpretive signs. After reading the guidance on interpretive signs for the National Parks and Forests Service, and meeting with the association’s board, I designed four signs. The signs were installed in the spring of 2019. 

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