The Old Yard

The Cemetery:
The Orr's Island Cemetery is a private, non-profit burial ground located at 1585 Harpswell Islands Road. It serves the residents of Orr's Island and others with family ties to the island. The cemetery also serves as an example of what is achievable in cemetery management when a dedicated group of volunteers work together with their friends and neighbors to preserve an important bit of Harpswell's history and heritage. It is recognized by cemetery professionals as one of the best kept among small private cemeteries in Maine. With its location along the main road, the Orr's Island Cemetery also attracts the attention of the many visitors to the Harpswell islands. It contributes significantly to the charm and appeal of the town.

The Crowd

The Association:
The Orr's Island Cemetery Association Inc. (OICA) was incorporated in 1948 to own and maintain the Orr's Island Cemetery for the benefit of the members of the association. Membership in the OICA is a prerequisite to owning burial rights in the cemetery. It is the association dues and generous contributions of the members that provide the majority of the funds needed for routine maintenance: grass cutting and trimming, weed control, trimming back encroaching brush, etc. The OICA also embarks on fundraising ventures from time to time. The most famous of these is the entertainment held at the head of Lowell's Cove. In 2014 there was live music, dancing and delicious food for about 800 people (see image at right). Another such event is planned for July 28, 2018. The OICA membership is open to full time or seasonal residents of Orr's Island and others with strong heritage ties to Orr's Island. If there is interest in joining the OICA you may contact the president, James Jones by phone 570-350-7275 or email

Looking Ahead

The Needs:
In addition to funds for the routine maintenance of the cemetery, there are needs that come up every few decades to maintain and improve the infrastructure of the yard. That time is upon us again. It has been thirty years since we have conducted an extensive fund drive. We will be seeking pledges of support from our members, friends and neighbors. The contributions are tax deductible and may be spread over a five year period. The following items, listed in the order of urgency, have been identified as recipients of fund drive proceeds.

Perpetual Care Trust Enhancement
Fence Replacement
Veteran Memorial
Valley Section Development

The perpetual care trust is prudently invested in relatively low risk instruments and as such has suffered from depressed interest rates for about a decade with no relief in sight. Consequently the income stream from the trust fund cannot cover the routine maintenance required by the several hundred cemetery lots not owned by current association members. Many of our members voluntarily contribute each year money in addition to the annual dues. We have been scraping by from year to year on the strength of these contributions. For the long term health of the cemetery we require a significant injection of cash into the perpetual care trust fund in addition to the continuance of the stream of voulntary annual contributions from our members.

Front Fence Section

The existing 850 foot cedar fence is approaching its twentieth birthday and is due for replacement with modern materials that do not suffer from paint loss and rot. We have been shimming leaning posts and making other make-shift repairs to try to keep up the appearance of the front section of fence but those efforts are soon going to be overwhelmed by the advancing rate of decay.

For some time we have discussed the need for a veterans memorial at the cemetery but other matters have always been more pressing. This memorial would be to honor all the veterans with Orr's Island heritage who have served the nation in peace and war. There are sites in the upper section of the cemetery, near the road, where such a memorial might be placed to good advantage. To date we have not been able to allocate any money to this project. We hope the fund drive will make it possible for us to design and erect a proper memorial.

Valley Section We have one remaining section of the cemetery, the Valley Section, that needs to be converted from its current wild state to useable burial ground. We have taken a first step by building an access road capable of carrying mowing and digging machinery to the valley floor and cutting the brush from the portion where the growth was light. It remains to clear the land of heavier growth, stumps and blown down trees out to the parcel boundary, and to remove heavy obstacles including sections of concrete culvert that somehow ended up on the valley floor. Next we need to level the valley floor, filling as necessary to prepare the ground for burials. Then we need to finish the access road, making it suitable for passage by automobiles and vault trucks and lay out and construct the roadways between the rows of plots. Finally we need to map out the new plots and record them in the inventory of available burial spaces.

The Plan:
In honor of the upcoming 180th anniversary of the Orr's Island Cemetery's founding in 1838 we are planning a fund raising drive asking association members and the public to pledge whatever they can to help us meet the needs identified above. We will need something in excess of $200,000 to accomplish those tasks. Thanks to the generosity of the association trustees and their friends we have a good start toward that goal.

In early December 2017 we will send the association members a letter enclosing a brochure describing the needs and goals, a pledge card and a pledge card return envelope. In early August 2018 we will send the public mailing to our neighbors - property owners in the Town of Harpswell whose property is protected by the Orr's and Bailey Island fire company. If you would like to help out please click on the pledge card link. Print the pledge card form, fill it out and mail it to PO Box 232, Orrs Island, ME 04066. You may choose whether to enclose a check for the first year's tax exempt donation or to donate with a credit or debit card through PayPal. If you choose to use a card click on the donate button below. Click the "Add special instructions to the seller:" item found on the PayPal form, enter your name and donation purpose, i.e. "pledge", "in memory of...", etc, so we know the donation came from you. We will mail the receipt for tax purposes to the address you provide on the pledge card form. Thank you for your time in reading this page and for any contribution you might choose to make.