Vandals have cracked and toppled nine headstones at one of the state’s oldest cemeteries over the past few weeks.
“These things are irreplaceable,” said Ross Pristera, president of the St. Michael’s Cemetery Foundation, said of the headstones, some of which date back to the early 19th century. “You just can’t make a new stone.”
He told the Pensacola News Journal the foundation plans to call in a team of specialists to repair the marble headstones. But even after they’re repaired, they’ll likely show some cracks and may be vulnerable to further damage from wind, frost or vandalism.
“It’s tough to see something that was in good shape toppled over for no reason,” he said.
There are roughly 3,200 marked graves and some 4,000 unmarked graves at the cemetery near downtown Pensacola. St. Michael’s is a national historic site, along with Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine. They are the oldest cemeteries in the state.
“These are the people that built Pensacola,” Pristera said. “They’re (the namesakes) of streets that are here and families that are here. Our cemetery is really a treasure for us to have.”
Pristera says the cemetery is a draw for tourists visiting the historic areas of Pensacola. But it will be closed for several weeks while repairs are made.
Police are investigating and anyone with information is asked to call 850-435-1900.
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