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Saving Cemeteries: Architect wants to form nonprofit organization

Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 18:06:24-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- A local architect wants to help preserve Tampa cemeteries to keep any from becoming forgotten and is forming his own idea to do so.

Patrick Thorpe owns part of Marti-Colon Cemetery in West Tampa. He said he bought it to help preserve it after the community spoke out about a plan to build a single-family home on an empty area of the property.

"They are keys to our past. They’re very architecturally and archaeology significant to determine where we’ve been as a society and where we may be going," said Thorpe.

But amid reports of forgotten and abandoned grave sits in Tampa, he wants to make sure other cemeteries don't fall by the wayside.

"When I see news about abandoned erased cemeteries I think that’s just the way it is and that’s the way it’s always been unless somebody steps up and does something that’s the way it’s going to continue to be. Tampa is not special in the fact we have abandoned and erased cemeteries it happens all over the country and it has for generations," Thorpe said.

His idea is to create a nonprofit.

"There is historically saturation point that comes with cemeteries and as well with the people that maintain and operate them," Thorpe said.

Thorpe said he hopes to create a public private partnership with the city. His idea calls for money from cremation scatterings on an open portion of the cemetery would fund the nonprofit, and be used to help maintain city owned cemeteries.

He said nonprofit status was approved.

The city already maintains its cemeteries. A spokesperson tells ABC Action News, "The City of Tampa is proactively looking at a number of ways we can ensure that a tragedy such as Zion being forgotten never happens again and that all cemeteries in the City of Tampa have proper memorialization."