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Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr.  Crypt, Old Burying Ground, Durham, Connecticut

Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr.

Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr.  was the first minister in Durham, CT and served the community from 1706 until his death in 1756.  He was born in Hatfield Massachusetts in 1681, to the parents of Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey Senior and Abigail Strong.  His grandfather, Reverend Charles Chauncey, was the second president of Harvard College from 1654-1672.   Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr. was the first student to graduate from  the Collegiate School in Saybrook, CT.  The Collegiate School was chartered in 1701 for youth to be educated for “employment in Church & Civil State.” The school relocated to New Haven, CT in 1716 and was renamed Yale College in 1718.

Crypt Condition

The Connecticut Valley sandstone gravemarker of Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr. consists of an above ground, table top crypt.  The structure originally relied on stone mortise and tenon joints between four corner posts and monolithic foundation and table top sections.  Four side panels keyed into the corner posts and interior rubble prevented the panels from pushing inward.  The crypt suffered from years of weathering, organic growth, disaggregation of the stone, severe deterioration of the lower crypt sidewalls, failing inappropriate repairs, losses, failure of the original mortise and tenon joints and failure of the stone foundation.


The general soiling and loose biological growths were removed with Biowash and gentle hand scrubbing. Rinsing with water at 2,500 psi with a 40 degree fan-tip at a working distance of 18” to 30”, depending on the stone fragility, removed the solution and much of the soiling.  Localized treatment with ProSoCo SK 766 Limestone Prewash (sodium hydroxide) and Afterwash (acetic acid) removed tenacious growths.  Hammer, chisel and Dremel removed repair mortars and smeared mortar on the stone surfaces. Compressed air and water removed loose debris from cracks.

Using scaffold towers, I beam, hoist and trolley, the crypt was opened,  rubble removed and the sandstone disassembled and staged for continued treatment. The friable sandstone was consolidated with Conservare OH-100, following the prescribed cyclical applications and MEK rinse.  The stone was protected from direct sun exposure and rain with plastic sheeting for a week and left to cure for 9 weeks.

A new concrete footing and support slab, reinforced with 316 stainless, was cast below the removed foundation stone. The profile of the slab conformed to the irregular profile of the historic sandstone base by using forms trimmed to the stone contours and floating the foundation sections (protected with plastic) onto the slab and wood form.

A lead sheet barrier isolated rising damp from the concrete and the foundation stone set in a bed of mortar.  A 316 stainless steel armature and anchor system was fabricated to fit into the crypt hollow to support the corner posts and side walls.  The stones were wet diamond cored, anchored and epoxied with Hilti Hit 500, positioned and attached to the armature.  A missing corner post was fashioned in the nearby Portland quarry.  A mortar consisting of 1 white Portland: 2 lime: 8 red sand,  sealed all joints.  Patches were done with Jahn M70tinted with Bayferrox Pigments.  Small cracks, preflushed with 10% ethanol and water, were injected with tinted Jahn 32.

Francis Miller, Directing Conservator
ConservArt LLC

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4 Responses to Nationwide Cemetery Preservation Summit Abstracts and Video

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  2. Robert Wrigley says:

    My wife’s gr-gr-grandfather is a Union soldier buried there. When we visited this grave site last October we were quite dismayed at the condition and damage done to the stones by lawn mowers running over and chipping it. At the time we did not know the full history of the markers being altered in the 1930s. We would fully support the efforts to restore them.
    Would it be possible for a private citizen to be able to contribute to the restoration of their family’s marker or replacement? Perhaps a volunteer effort of those with relatives there could help accomplish some of this initiative to restore to their original condition.

    • Jason Church says:

      Dear Robert,
      The best person to talk with will be Betsy Dinger Elizabeth_Dinger@nps.gov who is a historian for Petersburg National Battlefield and Cemetery.

    • Bryan Cheeseboro says:

      Mr. Wrigley,
      I don’t know if you’ll get this message but I would be very interested to know which of the men buried at Battleground Cemetery is your wife’s gr-gr-grandfather. I am a historian and I have spent the last several years researcing the battle of Fort Stevens and Battleground National Cemetery. Does your wife have a photograph of her ancestor? That would be a goldmine. I have never seen any picture of any of the men killed at the battle.

      If you can be of help to me, my e-mail address is bryanac625@yahoo.com. Thank you.

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