October 03. 2013 11:37PM

Valley Cemetery suffers another visit from vandals

New Hampshire Union Leader

Vandals toppled 15 granite and marble grave markers at the Valley Cemetery in Manchester this week. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Police are investigating vandalism at Valley Cemetery, where 15 monuments were knocked over this week.

Most of the damage occurred inside the Pine Street entrance and was discovered by Parks and Recreation workers Wednesday morning. Crews had reset some of the monuments before the end of the day.

“It’s sad. It’s really sad. I don’t know why they do that,” said Judy Aron, the city’s supervisor of cemeteries. “Those are old stones, too. They can’t be replaced.”

Police estimated the damage around $3,000. Although cemetery workers had reset most of the monuments, some were at odd angles; indentations left by the heavy stones remained visible. One large, white double headstone was cracked in several pieces and rested in the grass near the cemetery chapel.

The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2004.

State Rep. Jane Beaulieu, president of the board of Friends of Valley Cemetery, said she visited the landmark a few weeks ago to view damage done by thieves attempting to pry bronze from the tomb of Frederick Smyth, the mayor of Manchester who was elected governor of New Hampshire in 1865.

The non-profit Friends of Valley Cemetery helps with repairs every year, but the cemetery has little security and is an easy target for vandals, Beaulieu said.

“It continues to happen. Last spring we had a group of pipe fitters that raised about 120 stones,” she said.

The cemetery occupies about 20 acres just south of Verizon Wireless Arena. The land was donated to the city by Amoskeag Manufacturing Corp. in 1841, according to public records.

Aron said Valley Cemetery does not have a full-time maintenance crew. She estimated it is targeted by vandals two or three times a year. “Valley Street seems to be the one that’s hit the most often. The others we don’t have too many problems,” she said.

Manchester police asked anyone with information to call 688-8711.