Spirits Alive at the Eastern Cemetery
Gravestone art, winged skull
The winged skull of James Corry.

Books & Talks

Ron Romano's Eastern Cemetery Book Launch

Friday, October 13 at 6pm
Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine

We are very excited to announce the first book written exclusively about the history of the Eastern Cemetery. Ron Romano, author of Early Gravestones in Southern Maine — The Genius of Bartlett Adams, will be on hand at the Maine Historical Society's launch of  Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery— A Field of Ancient Graves, published by Arcadia Publishing. You are cordially invited to hear about Ron’s experiences writing about our favorite cemetery! There will be time for questions and for Ron to sign any books purchased during the evening. The event is free and open to the public. A list of Ron's future events related to the book is on our website.

Libby Bischof Talks Victorian Mourning

Saturday, October 14 at 1:30pm
Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine

Reprising her standing-room-only talk, Post Mortem Mourning Practices in 18th and 19th Century New England, Libby Bischof will be at the Maine Historical Society on Saturday, October 14 at 1:30pm. Come hear her explain various mourning curiosities such as hairwork, mourning stationery, and black crape dresses. Check out the sketched notes of the January 2015 lecture. Tickets are only $10 and $5. Early registration is encouraged, but not required!

Walk Among the Shadows Uncanny Tales on the Hill illustration


Uncanny Tours on the Hill: Walk Among the Shadows

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays: October 19 to 21 & 26 to 28
6:30PM to 7:30PM

Sundays: October 22 & October 29
5:30PM to 6:30PM

Get ready for our Walk Among the Shadows evening walks through the Eastern Cemetery. Uncanny Tales from the Hill: Historical Shivers will feature 5 ghostly storytellers who will impart spooky stories based on historical events in and around Munjoy Hill, the easternmost neighborhood of Portland. There will be 4 groups to go through each evening. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. We have developed a list of questions and details about the evenings on our website for more information.

Historic Walking Tours until October 15

Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays: 11:00am
Thursday late afternoons: 5:30pm

Regularly-scheduled tours continue through October 15. If you have always wanted to come inside the gates and learn about cemetery lore, gravestone art, and how this historic landscape ties into Portland history, take a nice stroll during a lovely fall morning or a Thursday evening. Pre-pay for your tour on Eventbrite.

Before and after the Kinsman headstone was repaired
Dr. Aaron Kinsman's massive slate headstone was pieced back together and braced.


In August, conservator Joe Ferrannini conducted a 3-day workshop in the cemetery where members of our conservation crew were able to get hands-on training in the art and science of repairing and resetting extra-large cemetery markers. Not only did they reset granite and marble monuments, but they also reset a large marble slab and put a massive slate stone back together that had broken into 2 pieces.

Check out all of the photos from the event on our Flickr album.

For the most updated conservation wins, follow us on Instagram (which copies to Facebook and Twitter). All of our conservation photos taken through the years (currently at 700+) are available in our Conservation of Eastern Cemetery album on Flickr.

Headstone of Elizabeth Lefavor
Headstone of Mary Gannen. Photo by Ron Romano

Subterranean Celebrity: Mary Gannen

Died: February 16, 1807

One of the stones highlighted in Ron’s new book on the Eastern Cemetery is that of Mary Gannen. It is located in a newly discovered section of the cemetery designated for Catholics, and is the oldest of the three Catholic sections. We have very few stones in the cemetery that are carved with a holy cross, and this one even includes crossed bones! The lettering is probably that of Bartlett Adams (our most prolific and Portland’s first stonecutter), but the cross was likely cut by an apprentice. The pointed slate stone with a simple notched border does not indicate that Mary was of Irish descent, but she is the first recorded as Catholic to be buried in Portland. She was married to a cabinetmaker, Michael, who was arrested more than once for debt.

Mary Gannen
wife of
Michael Gannen
died Feb. 16, 1807
AEt: 29

More information on these earliest Irish Catholics can be found in Matthew Jude Barker's The Irish of Portland, Maine: A History of Forest City Hibernians where Mary's last name is spelled Gannon.

You can suggest a subterranean celebrity! Just send an email—it doesn't take much to make a nice little story. An index of all of our Subterranean Celebrities is available.

Ask Amazon to Donate to Spirits Alive

If you're an Amazon shopper, here's an easy way to support your favorite historic Maine cemetery:

  • Go to smile.amazon.com
  • Enter "Spirits Alive" in the box
  • Choose the non-profit in Portland, Maine from the list

Voila! A portion of all of your purchases through smile.amazon.com will go to our efforts to support, conserve and promote this historic outdoor museum. Thank you!

Help the Eastern Cemetery

Support the work of Spirits Alive with your giving

You can help Spirits Alive keep the Eastern Cemetery alive for generations to come. Through your support, you can help us, an ALL-VOLUNTEER organization, to continue to:

  • Keep the gates open – encouraging the community to explore its open and safe green space
  • Offer education about the cemetery and its residents to the public – through tours, lectures, and events
  • Encourage and support the city in keeping the site clean and safe for visitors of all ages
  • Preserve this incredible outdoor museum and sacred historic landscape
We are a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Portland, Maine’s historic Eastern Cemetery through a range of activities including promotion and education.