Cemeteries and the West Virginia State Historic Preservation
WV SHPO has a very limited role with respect to cemeteries anywhere in the
state. At the Federal level, SHPO’s role is defined by the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966, and specifically in 36CFR800. At the state level,
WV Code § 29-1-8a defines SHPO’s role. In general, SHPO has the authority
to comment upon whether a cemetery is historic –
that is, whether it is eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic
Places. If a cemetery has been determined to be historic, then under Federal
code, we work with Federal agencies to either avoid the cemetery or have it
excavated by professional archaeologists. Under state law, we have the authority
to issue a permit so that it can be archaeologically excavated. If a cemetery
is determined to NOT be eligible for the National Register, our role ends.
What SHPO can do:
We work with the general public when asked to help document cemeteries.
We provide limited guidance with respect to the care and maintenance of
We provide our opinion about whether a cemetery may be eligible for listing
in the National Register of Historic Places.
We can work with the public to list a cemetery in the National Register
of Historic Places if the cemetery is considered to be eligible.
If a cemetery is listed in the National Register, it may be available for
Development Grant funding to restore items that
are contributing resources, such as mausoleums.
What SHPO cannot do:
The office has no authority to enforce applicable state laws.
The office has no authority to investigate complaints about disturbance/damage
The office does not have the authority to grant or deny someone permission
to access a cemetery.
The office does not have the authority to move cemeteries and generally
does not maintain records on cemeteries that have been moved.
The office does not have the authority to establish cemeteries or to tell
someone how to establish a cemetery.
The office does not have the authority to create a plan for protecting
The office does not have funding for routine maintenance of cemeteries,
such as mowing, weed-wacking, or routine work to headstones.