From Betsy Ross to former Philadelphia Mayor George Connell and famous local architect Samuel Sloan, the soil of Mount Moriah Cemetery in Southwest Philly is steeped in history.
In Mount Moriah’s heyday, the 380-acre estate with its elaborate Romanesque entrance and gatehouse, served as the burial grounds for Philadelphia’s elite. But now, the largest cemetery in Philadelphia is suffering from neglect, overrun by weeds and foliage as a result of years of failed management and confusion about ownership.
While the private group, The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, is working to bring the cemetery back to a beautified state as legal issues over its ownership still go unresolved, the costs to maintain the grounds are steep. In an effort to help the West Philly Runners and the Fishtown Beer Runners have teamed up for a two-part fundraiser next week to support the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery’s work.
The two running groups will hold their respective fundraisers in tandem, with West Philly Runners’ hosting its event on Wed. June 18 at City Tap House Philly (3925 Walnut Street), from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The group is asking for a $10 donation, which will be pooled together and given to Friends of Mount Moriah.
“The Mount Moriah Cemetery has the potential to be a great outdoor space, but right now it’s in limbo,” West Philly Runners member Stacey Ritzen, who co-organized the event, told West Philly Local. “We really want to clean up the space and make it nice, how it used to be back in the day. It used to be a cemetery for pretty wealthy West Philadelphia residents, and people would go and have picnics, just really enjoyed the space. It would be great to see it restored to what it was.”
During next Wednesday’s event, attendees can enjoy beer specials courtesy of Southern Tier Brewing Company and possibly win prizes from Honest Tom’s, Little Baby’s, Greensgrow West, Philadelphia Runner and other local businesses by taking part in the raffle. Fishtown Beer Runners will run a similar event the next day, Thurs. June 19, at Llama Tooth, with a portion of the proceeds received that night going to Friends of Mount Moriah.
West Philly Runners is also hosting a clean up day at the cemetery on Sat. June 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. “Hopefully through the efforts of these two fundraisers, we can get the word out and hopefully inspire people to come volunteer and put in the hours,” Ritzen said. “We really want to see it become a space everyone can use.”
Editor’s Note: Here’s a recent video, “In Memoriam,” made by Temple University. The history and current state of this massive, formerly abandoned cemetery are examined through interviews. The dramatic efforts by hundreds of volunteers to revitalize it are also addressed in the video.