On September 20-21, 2012 NCPTT’s materials conservator Jason Church taught two cemetery monument conservation workshops as part of the Kentucky Heritage Council annual Historic Preservation Conference. Church’s contribution to the well attended and diverse annual conference was entitled “Our History Rests Here: Preservation and Restoration of Historic Cemeteries, Part 1 and Part 2”.

The first day of the workshop began with lectures at the First Baptist Church in Dawson Springs, KY. Lectures by Church covered Cemetery Documentation and Research, Making a Preservation Plan, and the Proper Stone Cleaning Techniques. Kary Stackelbeck, Archaeology Review Coordinator with the Kentucky Heritage Council also presented on State Cemetery Regulations and Advocacy Perspectives.


After lunch the class did hands-on field sessions at the Arcadia Cemetery in Dawson Springs, KY. At the cemetery Church discussed ways to protect historic iron fencing and lead stone cleaning demonstrations. and Princeton, KY. Philip Mink Archaeologist with the Kentucky Heritage Council lead a field session on the use of Ground Penetrating Radar for mapping of unmarked graves and abandoned cemeteries.

The second day of the conference began in downtown Princeton, KY with “Bringing the Dead Back to Life-Perpetual Care of Historic Cemeteries: Cemetery Preservation Roundtable” in the sanctuary of the Central Presbyterian Church. Ann Johnson with the State Cemetery Preservation Program gave an eye opening presentation entitled “Tombstone Tales; Horror Stories from KY Cemeteries”. This was followed by Peggy Guier KY Heritage Council Attorney discussing State protection legislation and rulings and Jason Church talking on Federal regulations for burials and cemeteries.


After the roundtable discussion the hands-on field session continued at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Princeton, KY. Day two hands-on included cleaning tips and techniques for historic stone, resetting techniques, and simple repair techniques. After lunch guest presentations were give by Gary Keshner and Nathaniel Jones both of Cathedral Stone Products. Gary and Nathaniel talked with the workshop participants about stone patching techniques.


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6 Responses to Our History Rests Here: Preservation and Restoration of Historic Cemeteries

  1. Sue Lynn McDaniel says:

    Jason, I learned so much. But need to learn more. First question: in my effort to rally the troops (volunteers) in Warren County, KY, I have written a very short “what I learned” piece fir our Landmark Association newsletter. Could they have permission to republish the photo in this post as our Historic Preservation Planner Miranda Clements is in the foreground. Please advise Jonathan.Jeffrey@wku.edu
    Thanks again — and I need the mending session when possible.
    Sue Lynn

  2. Bonnie Sisson Manning says:

    I am originally from Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, and am very interested in learning as much as I can about the restoration/cleaning of old tombstones. This is a very small parish. I’ve watched everything I can find on the internet. Many of the very old stones in Morehouse Parish are in danger. Several of us are slowly putting everything on Find A Grave. Many older tombstones seem to be made of a white stone from Georgia which is highly stained. Flat tombstones (where the names are facing upwards) are a special problem in the area. Tree saps seem to blacken the printing area. Luckily, this type of tombstone seems to have lost favor since the 1980s. I’m just interested in any programs, videos, newsletters, etc.

  3. John Heider says:

    Hello Bonnie,
    In your state of Louisiana, The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT)ncptt.nps.gov is a very good and reliable source for cemetery preservation methods or techniques. Michigan has a excellent downloadable manual, Michigan Historic Cemeteries Preservation Guide. Another online how-to-clean booklet is available from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), http://www.illinoishistory.gov/cemetery.

  4. Late to the party seeing this, but looks wonderful! I will check the video on preservation and the list of upcoming conferences. I really need to learn more as I have dozens of family stones in terrible repair and in need of whatever preservation can be done to impede future deterioration.

    Thanks for your great work! Keep it up, PLEASE!

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