A Philadelphia Orphans' Court judge has appointed a receivership to rehabilitate the neglected 200-acre Mount Moriah Cemetery, which straddles Cobbs Creek in Southwest Philadelphia and Yeadon, Delaware County, according to an order posted Friday.

After a hearing Wednesday, Judge John W. Herron dissolved the 159-year-old Mount Moriah Cemetery Association, whose last officer died in 2004. The association's last employee abandoned the cemetery - where 5,000 veterans, including 23 recipients of the Medal of Honor, are buried - in 2011.

Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corp. is the a nonprofit organization, with a seven-member board, that will assume responsibility and report to the court twice a year on its progress in restoring the grounds.

"While it's only been abandoned for a few years, it's been decades that it's been mistreated," said Brian Abernathy, president of the new organization, which will not own the cemetery but will manage it for the court.

Abernathy, now executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, became involved with Mount Moriah in 2011, when he was chief of staff in the Managing Director's Office.

Philadelphia and Yeadon have two seats each on the board of the preservation organization. Those four members elect the three additional members.

The first task is to raise money, Abernathy said: "We haven't set a goal yet, but it's going to be a significant amount."

The dissolved association had only $10,000 in an operating account and $10,000 in a perpetual-care account.

The board also has to determine the extent of the cemetery's assets, for example, whether the association owns any additional real estate or has equipment that is stored off site.

Another big challenge: "We need to understand where people are buried," Abernathy said.

The city rescued burial records from Mount Moriah's deteriorating administrative building in 2010, but the disarray on the ground makes it hard to locate graves.

Matthew N. McClure and other attorneys at Ballard Spahr L.L.P. handled legal work on a pro bono basis.

The appointment of the receiver does not affect the rights of anyone who has a contract to be buried there, McClure said.

He called the state of the cemetery an insult to history and the people who are buried there.

"It should be a wonderful asset for Philadelphia. Instead, it's the opposite," McClure said. "It's time to turn it around."