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Crystal Lake Historical Society

S.O.S. (Save Our Stones)

Local History


Background Information

Members of the Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission and Crystal Lake Historical Society have embarked on a project to clean and repair the headstones at the Crystal Lake Cemetery on Lake Avenue.  Using approved cleaning products, methods and a little elbow grease, members are bringing these stone monuments back to life.  The cemetery’s owner, Algonquin Township, is also a partner, playing a key role in the restoration of this historic cemetery.

The Crystal Lake Cemetery is the oldest public burial ground in Crystal Lake and Algonquin Township.  Since it was established in 1840, nearly 1,200 burials have taken place at the cemetery, with about 450 of these being children.  Additionally, 54 veterans are buried at the Crystal Lake Cemetery, broken down as follows: 1-Patriot’s War, 6-War of 1812, 45-Civil War, 2-WW1.

On August 15, 2000, the Crystal Lake City Council voted unanimously to approve Algonquin Township’s application for Landmark Designation of the cemetery.  The Landmark Designation bestows legal protection to the property for the purpose of preserving its public character and history.  The City’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) provides the necessary oversight.

Any changes to a landmarked property require submittal and approval by the HPC of a Certificate of Appropriateness.  This oversight is necessary as well-intentioned cleanings or repairs to headstones can actually cause more harm than good.  Repairs and maintenance to non-historic elements of the cemetery (such as the gate, fence, pillar, sign, grass, trees, shrubs, etc.) do not require a Certificate of Appropriateness.  As the cemetery owner, Algonquin Township is responsible for the repairs and maintenance items listed above.

In July 2022, Algonquin Township completed a beautiful facelift to the cemetery’s front entrance.  The pillars flanking the main gate and marking the front boundaries of the cemetery have been repaired and re-faced with cut stone.  Additionally, new landmark plaques have been installed.  These plaques provide information on the history and significance of the historic cemetery.


Beginning in 2020 and under the guidance of the HPC, Eagle Scout candidate, Mitchell Hopkins, trained and led a team of volunteers to clean several veteran’s headstones at the Crystal Lake Cemetery.  This effort continues with the help of volunteers.  Unfortunately, many of the tombstones are broken, fallen or unstable and cannot safely be cleaned until they are repaired.

Phase 1 – Accomplishments

The S.O.S. (Save Our Stones) fund was established by the Crystal Lake Historical Society to raise the necessary funds to repair the historic headstones of Crystal Lake Cemetery.  First priority for the use of the funds is to repair headstones of veterans buried at the cemetery.  Phase 1 of this project was completed in July/August 2023.  A detailed report to our donors explains what stones were repaired, how they were repaired, and includes before and after photos.  To read the report, please click on this link: SOS Update – Phase 1.

Crystal Lake should be proud of what’s been accomplished so far, but there’s more work to be done!

Phase 2 – What’s Next?

Phase 2 of the Save Our Stones project will be to repair the fallen obelisk tombstones, including that of Civil War veteran, James Best.  For each of these, the base is in place, but the obelisk which should be on top of the base is laying on the ground.  Our stonesetter indicates these are the most likely repairs to successfully stay in place for the next century.  Getting the obelisks off the ground is helpful for the landscapers when cutting grass and also prolongs the life of the engravings.

The following fundraising thermometer represents our goal and current fund balance for Phase 2.


Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin$20,000Raised $5,185 towards the $20,000 target.$5,185Raised $5,185 towards the $20,000 target.26%

So far we have raised $5,185 towards our goal of $20,000.

If you would like to donate to this fund, please click on the DONATE button.  Thank you!

Your help is greatly appreciated!  For additional information, please email us at: