The Jefferson City Cemetery Resources Board will pursue a national historic designation for the Woodland-Old City Cemetery.
Board Chair Nancy Thompson, who is working on the National Register of Historic Places application, said while getting cemeteries designated is difficult and the process was "quite stringent," she thinks there is a good chance the cemetery would receive it since several notable figures are buried there, including former Missouri governors, a Supreme Court justice and the Parsons family.
Originally, the board planned to pursue making the cemetery a state historic site, but Thompson said the National Register "has more clout" and would recognize the cemetery on the state and national level.
"There are people in the community that know how significant this cemetery is, but I don't think it's as widely known, certainly not throughout the state," she said. "This gives us a flag or something that we can put in front of the cemetery saying, 'Yes, this is very significant historically.'"
Thompson said while the National Register would not completely protect the cemetery, the designation could discourage people from destroying or not maintaining it.
"If you wanted to put a highway going through (the cemetery), for example, you would think hard and strong about it because it would be on the National Register," she said. "It gives some integrity when we argue the historic significance of this cemetery."
The board said in November it would approach the Jefferson City Council about handing over ownership of the cemetery to the state. While they have not approached the council or state yet, board members confirmed Thursday they are still considering the idea.
Thompson told the News Tribune in November the state would have more promotional resources than the city to market the site, especially if it receives the designation.
A section of the cemetery along East McCarty Street is designated for burials of state government officials.
Ward 5 Councilman Mark Schreiber said his first preference would be the city keep ownership of the cemetery. While the state might be interested in the cemetery because of the number of prominent state officials buried there, he said he believes it would be more appropriate for the cemetery to stay with the city as it ties in with the city's preservation and promotional efforts at the Missouri State Penitentiary and fire museum.
Schreiber suggested maintenance and oversight be transferred to the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, as it could include signs providing information about significant figures in the cemetery and create walking paths through it.