Assembly protects hospital cemetery

April 14, 2004

The General Assembly has passed a bill that would protect the historic cemetery at Crownsville Hospital Center, even if the hospital closes this year as expected.

The bill would require the state to maintain the cemetery and mark it with a monument. It also bans the state from selling the cemetery and land that allows access to it. Attempts by legislators to prevent the hospital from closing failed, so the facility is expected to be vacated as soon as July 1.

The cemetery sits on a hilly, wooded plot next to Interstate 97 north of Annapolis. From the time Crownsville opened in 1911 as the Hospital for the Negro Insane until about 1953, many of its patients were buried beneath flat, numbered concrete blocks.

Annapolis historian Janice Hayes-Williams and other volunteers have spent the past several months trying to identify the approximately 1,400 nameless bodies interred at the cemetery by examining death records at the state archives in Annapolis.

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