Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs Listed on National Register of Historic Places

At the Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, the tombstone of Christodoulos and Maria Coutroulis. Photo: Tina Bucuvalas

TARPON SPRINGS, FL – On March 20, the National Register of Historic Places officially listed Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County as a Traditional Cultural Property with state and local significance on the basis of Greek cultural practices. Cycadia Cemetery had previously been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register by Florida’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on November 8, 2018.

Cycadia Cemetery was nominated to the National Register for a period of significance ranging from 1905 into the present. It is a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) due to its direct association with ongoing Greek-American cultural and religious funerary practices and grave markers. Although not physically contiguous with the Greektown Historic District (also a TCP), Cycadia Cemetery has always been part an integral part of its cultural complex. In earlier days, they were physically connected by funeral processions that proceeded by foot from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral to Cycadia Cemetery; today they cover the same route in cars. Priests from Greektown perform Greek Orthodox burial rituals at Cycadia, and residents perform other folk rituals. Gravesites include culturally prescribed accessories such as candle holders, Greek or Byzantine crosses, and other items. In addition to Orthodox symbols, gravestone designs often incorporate images of boats, divers, and other items that reflect the foundation of Tarpon Springs’ Greek community in the sponge industry. In addition, the graves of celebrated Greek musicians, grave markers are often engraved with Greek instruments.

At the Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, the tombstone for the Skordilis family features a bouzouki. Photo: Tina Bucuvalas

Folklorist and City of Tarpon Springs Curator of Arts & Historical Resources Tina Bucuvalas initiated, researched, and wrote the nomination. She also researched and wrote the nominations that listed the Greektown Historic District (2014) and Rose Cemetery (2016) on the National Register. Tarpon Springs’ Board of Commissioners and Historic Preservation Board approved the nomination. Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation Survey & Registration Supervisor Ruben Acosta worked closely with Bucuvalas to ensure that the application fulfilled state and national requirements.

The National Register of Historic Places, a list maintained by the National Park Service, includes historical, archaeological, or cultural properties (buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts) considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. The Traditional Cultural Property designation was created in 1990. According to National Register Bulletin 38, a property is eligible for consideration “because of its association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that (a) are rooted in that community’s history, and (b) are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community.” Florida nominations are first submitted to Florida’s Division of Historical Resources/Bureau of Historic Preservation, which reviews the nomination, and submits it to the National Park Service if eligible for listing.

For further information, contact: Tina Bucuvalas, tbucuvalas@ctsfl.us, 727-927-1130.

At the Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, the tombstone for John and Mary Maillis features a diving helmet. Photo: Tina Bucuvalas