Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division, in partnership with the Decatur Preservation Alliance/Friends of Decatur Cemetery and the Georgia Municipal Cemetery Association, sponsored four hands-on cemetery conservation workshops in October and early November 2008. HPD was able to offer financial support from sales proceeds of the book, Grave Intentions: A Comprehensive Guide to Preserving Historic Cemeteries in Georgia, authored by HPD Cemetery Specialist, Christine (Van Voorhies) Neal.
HPD receives a large number of inquiries about historic cemeteries issues. The demonstrated need for information and guidance, especially about gravestone conservation, prompted us to initiate these workshops. The workshops were also an excellent way to fulfill our responsibility to use the book sales funds to advance cemetery preservation in our state. We are pleased to have been able to offer Georgia citizens this rare, hands-on educational opportunity.
The one-day workshops were conducted by Mr. Jonathan Appell, independent gravestone conservator from West Hartford, Connecticut (http://gravestoneconservation.com). He discussed various kinds of stones, why they decay or get broken, and gave an overview of how to repair them, followed by instruction in some universal gravestone preservation techniques. Participants were able to try their hand at effective, simple methods for repair and resetting of tombstones, which they can use in their own cemeteries. Mr. Appell was also happy to view photos and/or answer questions about particular gravestones in other cemeteries. Workshops were held in Columbus, Sandersville, Gainesville, and Decatur. Attendees ranged from interested individuals to members of cemetery friends groups, county planners, city cemetery staff and other government officials.
We hope this very successful, first effort at bringing cemetery conservation training to Georgia has generated interest in more groups partnering to offer future similar opportunities.