Gravestone Conservation Projects at HCC

The Association has undertaken several gravestone restoration projects in the last several years, restoring several hundred markers and monuments. The grouping below highlight some of the more interesting challenges we faced.  

2009 - Five Broken Marble Tablets

The Association engaged Howard Wellman Conservation to repair five broken marble tablet gravestones. 

2008 - Four Sandstone Monuments

The Association engaged Kreilick Conservation to repair four 19th Century Aquia Creek sandstone monuments.  Three of the monuments were erected for historicly important individuals in DC history.  Aquia Creek sandstone is the same quarry that produced the stone used to build the Capitol Building and the White House.  It is a soft sedimentary stone in sandy colors that has not stood the test of time well.

The William Prout box tomb had severe delamination on all four sides with some fragments missing from the surfaces.  The top of the box is a ledger enscribed with the deceased in that site, which is in good condition.  Kreilick Conservation washed the monument wiht Vulpex detergent and low water pressure before treating all four sides with a condolidant to more firmly bind the grains of sand in the stone.  Larger cracks were filled with Jahn restoration mortar in colors matching the original stone.  The Prout box tomb is located directly behind the Cemetery Gatehouse garage.

The Samuel Smallwood obelisk is an Aquia Creek sandstone that rises to approximatley 13 feet, capped by an urn finial.  The obelisk sits on a set of base stones and a pedistal. The east face has a long inscription filing the surface edge to edge.  The monument was blackened by bio/chemical growth and showed severe delamination on three sides and a vertical crack in the obelisk all though the stone.  The monument was washed with Vulpex detergent and low pressure washed before being treated with a consolidant to more firmly bind the grains of sand in the stone. Cracks and openings between delaminated sections on the pedistal were filled with Jahn Restoration Mortar for stabilization. A hole was drilled though the obelisk into which a stainless steel rod was inserted to bolt the halves together, and then sealed with mortar.  The conservators report that the de-crystallization action is occuring well inside the surface of the stone.  Large areas of the pedistal surface were delaminating in a maner that made restoration an unlikely to be a successful option. The application of large quantities of consolidant is hoped to slow down the process and preserve the stone. Ultimate replacement of the pedistal is highly likely at somepoint, raising questions as to how the east face inscription can be preserved.  The Smallwood monument sits on the slate pathwasy near the Gatehouse across from the Blagden Valut.

The James Greenleaf monument is a six foot tall Aquia Creek sandstone momument made up of two bases stones, a pedistal with inscriptions, and capstone with an urn and eternal flame.  The engravings are in good condition, the stone is blacked by bio/chemical growths and cracked through the pedistal.  It had significant delamination on the west face.  The stone was washed with Vulpex detergent and low pressure wash. A consolidant treatment on te west face brough ut a haze around the mortar repairs to the crack in the pedestal. The haze was treated wit microbraded walnut shells and all visible repairs camoflagued with Epichrome mortar.

The Catherine Sandford box tomb is an Aquia Creek sandstone box atop an exposed brick foundation on a hillside.  The engraving on the top ledger is in good condition. Therewas significant delamination onf the east and west faces, and some on the north face. The top ledger was broken and had fallen into the tomb.  The corners of the ledger are broken and missing.  There was significant tree root and vine invasion. The tomb sits along the norht iron fence near the Elbridge Gerry tomb.

The Sandford tomb was washed with Vuplex and low pressure was.  The ledger was removed to drill small holes to insert stainless steel pins at regular intervals into the larger pieces and epoxied into place.  The stone had bowed over time requiring shims to assure a tight fit on the surface. The cracks and voids were filled with Jahn mortars.  The tree was removed from the edge of the tomb and the brick base was partly disassembled and rebuilt.  The sandstone vault interior joints had failed and were replaced. Iron clamps were replaced with stainless steel, and cracks repaired with Jahn mortars.

2007 - VA Re-set 70 Military Headstones


2004 - 75 Headstones Along 9/11 Grove Repaired.



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