Exhuming the North Burial Ground: A Perfect Place in Providence

Last Updated by Lucie Raposo, Faythann Fallon on

Exhuming the North Burial Ground: A Perfect Place in Providence is inspired by Rhode Islander Viola Davis’s 2017 Academy award acceptance speech.

“...there's one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that's the graveyard. People ask me all the time — what kind of stories do you want to tell? And I say, 'Exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition; people who fell in love and lost.'”

Providence’s North Burial Ground is the largest public cemetery in Rhode Island. It has served the Providence and Rhode Island public since the 1600s. Despite its urban surroundings, the North Burial Ground is an open-space sanctuary where Rhode Islanders can come and experience a quiet, park-like beauty envisioned by the cemetery designers. Remarkably, the North Burial Ground - this “perfect place” in Providence - attracts artists, genealogists, joggers, historians, environmentalists, tree enthusiasts, wildlife caretakers, photographers, film makers, educators, and gravestone enthusiasts.

Exhuming the North Burial Ground: A Perfect Place in Providence combines dramatizations, expert commentary, documents, on-location filming and scenic visuals, as well as the music of Pendragon, to exhume the stories Davis so dramatically reminds us are just waiting to be told, lives waiting to be celebrated.

Still an active cemetery with more than 200 burials a year within its gates, the nearly 35,000 gravestones, memorials, and tombs mark the sites where many remarkable individuals are interred. This film tells the stories of six individuals. The documentary premieres on Thursday, October 31 at 9 p.m.on Rhode Island PBS.