Preserving the real places and the real stories of Texas.

Real Places 2019: Austin’s Cemetery Master Plan

Garnering Local Support For Cemetery Stewardship

Breakout 5C

Day/Time: Friday, January 18, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Location: Capitol View Terrace S, 3rd Floor
Speakers: Kim McKnight, City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department

Municipalities across the country face challenges with the management of historic urban cemeteries. Families are not rooted in the same communities for generations, and cremation is increasingly popular, eclipsing traditional burial. Local governments with limited budgets understandably find it difficult to prioritize cemetery upkeep when the needs of living residents are pressing and immediate. Faced with such challenges, cities that manage these special spaces are re-imagining their role and finding ways to creatively engage citizens. Learn how Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) transformed five struggling municipal cemeteries into a new model that invites capital investment, new revenue sources, and educational opportunities. Speakers will explain how Austin PARD’s nationally acclaimed Historic Cemeteries Master Plan outlines a bright new future for the city’s most sacred landscapes.


Kim McKnight is the environmental conservation program coordinator at Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department. She is the project leader for the Historic Austin Cemeteries Master Plan and also tracks the inventory of historic resources in the park system, works with community groups on park improvements, and advises on issues related to historic properties and cultural landscapes. She previously served as the executive director of the Texas Downtown Association and led the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Main Street Program. An Austin native, McKnight has a master’s degree in Historic Preservation and bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin.