Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sanford Gifford's Grave

In August 2008, Peter Jung announced the discovery of the grave of Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford in the Hudson City Cemetery. The announcement was just a wee bit misleading. The "discovery" had taken place five years earlier, and many of us already knew that Sanford Gifford was buried in Hudson and had even visited his grave, thanks to Don Christensen, who in 2003 put together a magnificently well-researched tour of places in Hudson related to the life of Sanford Gifford and other artists who were his contemporaries, to coincide with a major retrospective of Gifford's work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jung's discovery of the grave inspired him to undertake a project, with art historian Alexandra Polemis and art enthusiast Paul Stein, to restore the family plot where Sanford Gifford and his wife, Mary, are buried. To this end, a restoration plan has been created and a professional stonemason has been identified to repair and reset the tombtones. All that remains is to raise the needed funds.

The cost of the project has been estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000. So far, $6,500 has been committed. The restoration could begin this spring if the remainder of the money can be raised. To this end, a handsome blog was been created, where you can learn more about Sanford Gifford and his work and make a contribution to the cause.

In the 1980s, the New York State Historic Preservation Office determined that the Hudson City Cemetery was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its notable collection of late 18th- and 19th-century funerary art. This status was confirmed by William Krattinger of SHPO in 2005. As a community, we should pursue National Register designation for our cemetery, and restoring the grave of one of the cemetery's most illustrious personages should be the beginning of that effort.

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