Historic Cemetery Grants FAQ

When can I apply for grants?

The Historic Cemetery Grant application period for the 2023-2025 biennium will open on Friday, September 1, 2023, and will close on Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 11:59pm

Note: We strongly encourage you to review the entire application and prepare your submission in a separate text document before submitting your answers and attachments in the online form.

How do I know if a cemetery is eligible to apply?

To apply for grants, cemeteries must be within Washington State and contain five (5) or more burials, with at least one burial more than 50 years old.

Can cemeteries outside of Washington State apply? 

No. Funding for this program comes from the Washington State Capital Budget, so this program is only open to cemeteries within Washington State. For information regarding support for cemeteries in your state, please connect with your State Historic Preservation Office.

Does a cemetery need to be listed on a historic register to be eligible?

No, cemeteries do not need to be listed on a historic register to be eligible to apply. However, if you have questions about your cemetery’s designation status, please contact Michael Houser, the State Architectural Historian, at (360) 890-2634 or via email at michael.houser@nulldahp.wa.gov.

What can I request funds for? What projects are eligible?

Funds may be requested for construction, renovation, or rehabilitation projects that preserve the historic character, features, and materials of the cemetery, or that maintain or improve the functions of the cemetery.

Projects must be considered capital projects that make significant, long-term improvements to existing facilities. Projects typically fall into one of the following categories: protection and security; restoration and preservation; and interpretative displays. Eligible projects may include, but aren’t limited to: security fencing or lighting; skilled monument repair; conservation of historic elements such as fencing, curbs, markers, etc.; interpretive signage; and landscape restoration. The purchase of equipment for capital improvements or to reduce overall maintenance costs may also be eligible.

Explore examples of previous grant-funded projects.

How much money can I ask for?

Applicants may request up to $50,000. The average grant award is about $15,000-$30,000, while our highest-ever grant award was $50,000.

There is no required match for Historic Cemetery Grants.

Where does this money come from?

The Historic Cemetery Grant Program was established by the Washington State Legislature in 2016 with the passage of House Bill 2637. Funding for the Historic Cemetery Grant Program comes from the Washington State Capital Budget approved by the Washington State Legislature every two years.

Because it is public money, grant contracts with private property owners (including nonprofit owners) include a ten-year term historic preservation easement, which ensure the cemetery is not adversely impacted by future action.

Are there special requirements for using this grant?

Yes! All private property owners (including nonprofit owners) who receive a Historic Cemetery Grant are required to enter into a property easement to ensure the cemetery is not adversely impacted by future action, such as demolition or inappropriate alteration. The easement must be notarized and filed with your property deed at your county’s auditor’s office before grant funds are disbursed. The term of the easement will be ten years, and will carry forward to any new owners within the term of the easement should the property be sold.

If the property owner wishes to make any substantial changes to the property during the period of the easement or maintenance agreement, those changes will need to be compatible with the historic character of the cemetery. Property owners should contact the grant administrators to consult about the proposed changes before any additional work commences.

Further, public access to the cemetery must be provided under reasonable terms and circumstances; for example, a posted sign must provide hours of access or a telephone number to arrange a scheduled visit. Tribal access must be provided under reasonable terms and circumstances to historic cemeteries in which there are Indian burials.

How are grant awards selected?

The grant application projects are reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • relative historic significance of the cemetery;
  • relative percentage of military burials in the cemetery;
  • project impact on future maintenance and operation costs and provisions provided for long-term preservation;
  • urgency of the project;
  • public access of the cemetery; and
  • extent to which the project leverages community and volunteer support.

My proposed project requires ground disturbance or excavation. Are there special requirements?

Any proposed work on cemetery grounds that includes ground disturbance may require obtaining a permit from the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). Depending on the location and scope of work, you may be required to hire an archaeologist to monitor the site or complete the permit and include those costs in your budget.

Prior to submitting this application, we encourage you to reach out to the State Physical Anthropologist, Guy Tasa at (360) 790-1633 or via email at Guy.tasa@nulldahp.wa.gov for preliminary feedback.

More information: https://dahp.wa.gov/archaeology/archaeological-permitting.

I’m working with an abandoned cemetery. Are there special requirements?

Yes. If you are working with an abandoned cemetery, you must obtain a Care & Maintenance Certificate from the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to care for an abandoned cemetery. Abandoned cemeteries are cemeteries where:

  • no ownership can be determined by the county assessor; or
  • the organization that formed for the purposes of burying the human dead has:
    • disbanded,
    • been administratively dissolved by the secretary of state,
    • otherwise ceased to exist, and for which the title has not been conveyed, or
    • no longer has a valid certificate of authority to operate as determined by the funeral and cemetery board

Learn more about the Care & Maintenance Certificate process and apply for a certificate here: https://dahp.wa.gov/abandoned-cemeteries.

What is the process for actually receiving the money? How does reimbursement work?

The Historic Cemetery Grants are reimbursement grants, which means that projects must be financed up front and grant awards are only distributed on a reimbursement basis after the work is completed. As you are planning your finances, please allow about six weeks for reimbursements to be processed.

Cemetery Grant recipients must submit all invoices and itemized receipts, along with all proofs of payment, to receive grant funds. Invoices and itemized receipts detail the items purchased and/or work to be done. Proofs of payment show how the items or work was paid for, either with credit card receipts, cancelled/cashed checks, or in the case of paying in cash, a receipt indicating cash payment. If a credit card receipt is lost or an image of a cancelled/cashed check is not available, bank statements (with private/unrelated information redacted as needed) can be submitted as proof of payment.

Can I submit more than one application?

No, only one application is allowed per organization/entity. However, applicants may propose multiple work elements in one application. 

Can I apply to split the funds between multiple cemeteries?

No, funds can only be applied for one cemetery at a time. Those who own or manage more than one cemetery must choose one to apply for.

I applied previously and did not receive a grant. Can/should I apply again?

Yes! We welcome repeat applicants and have awarded many projects after their second or even third grant request. Although the number of times a property owner applies for grants does not factor into the scoring of your application, we do keep track of who applies each round and it is a part of the committee’s deliberation for the grant awards.

I applied previously and did receive a grant. Can/should I apply again?

Yes. Whether or not you received a grant, you can always apply again for the program.

The application asks for high-quality photos of my cemetery. How can I learn more about capturing good photos of my historic resource?

For tips on how to best photograph your cemetery, view our DAHP Photography Guide. Use this guide to prepare the following kinds of photos required in your application:

  • Public View: one (1) image showing view of cemetery from a public right of way (even if you cannot see the cemetery from the public right of way)
  • Context: Up to eight (8) images illustrating the overall condition and landscape of the cemetery
  • Project: Up to 15 images clearly illustrating the condition of the area(s) of the proposed work and the need for/urgency of repair

Where can I learn more?

Be sure to explore the Historic Cemetery Grants 2023-2025 Guidelines and Procedures document for more information about the application process. You can also watch the online version of our 2019-2021 grant workshop for information about the grants and a walkthrough of the application.

We will also be hosting Office Hours via Zoom for interested parties to drop in to ask questions about the grant program or about a specific project. There will be two Office Hours sessions: Wednesday, September 20 from 5:00-6:30 pm, and Wednesday, October 11 from 5:00-6:30 pm. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

For more assistance, please contact grants@nullpreservewa.org.