Preservation workshop planned for old cemeteries
St. George — The preservation of old gravestones, done correctly, is a primary focus and concern to the Maine Old Cemetery Association.
With that in mind, MOCA is sponsoring a gravestone preservation workshop at Old North Parish Church Cemetery, Wiley’s Corner, in St. George. The workshop will be held on four consecutive days, from Friday, May 30 to Monday, June 2, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Although most individuals have good intentions when cleaning and maintaining gravestones, there have been times when their methods, instead of adding longevity to the stone, have actually caused additional damage to the stone. MOCA believes it is imperative that those intending to perform any maintenance on gravestones learn the appropriate techniques and materials to use in their preservation work.
The workshop will be led by professional gravestone conservator, Joe Ferrannini, owner of Grave Stone Matters of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. Ferrannini’s company works with municipalities, historical societies, cemetery associations and individuals to conserve their historic gravestones and monuments.
The first two days of this 2014 workshop will include basic instruction regarding cleaning stones and straightening leaning stones. The second and third days will include more advanced techniques, such as repairing broken stones and casting new bases in which to set stones. In addition, portions of the workshop will include instruction on mapping a cemetery and setting priorities for precedence in gravestone repair. Anyone with no previous experience in gravestone maintenance should attend the first two days of the workshop in order to acquire basic skills, before moving on to the third and fourth days.
A similar workshop was held in 2011 at the Oxbow Cemetery in Norridgewock, with approximately 50 people participating. Those attending expressed appreciation for the knowledge and experience they gained: “The workshop at Oxbow Cemetery was inspiring and gave me a greater desire to care for old cemeteries. Ferrannini is a great instructor, teaching you while letting you do things hands-on,” said J. Couture, Waterville.
“I attended only the first day of the Oxbow project; we spent most of the day de-brushing the cemetery borders. I helped clean an ancient slate headstone crusted with such a tough layer of lichen that I’m not sure it all came off, but I do know we cleaned properly and as well as could be done,” according to J. Wilder, Waterville
“At the workshop at Oxbow Cemetery, Norridgewock in 2011. Our lead instructor, Joe Ferrannini, was excellent; he was patient, practical, and a good teacher. I stretched my stay to three days, due to the quality of MOCA's planning, the level of instruction by Joe, and the many intangible benefits from networking with other attendees. Everyone who attended cared deeply about the future preservation of our cemeteries; several traveled from as far away as Indiana and Alabama, “ said D. Lowell, Tenants Harbor.
There will be no set fee for participation in this workshop; however, donations for each day of participation would be appreciated. Donations will be used to cover costs of this and future workshops. To attend any portion of this event, pre-registration is required . Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line of the email, please type ST. GEORGE. Or, find a combined registration and waiver form at MOCA’s website: rootsweb.ancestry.com/~memoca/moca.htm. This form may be printed off, completed and mailed to MOCA’s president at her Smithfield address. Those without email may send a note, by U.S. Mail, addressed to: MOCA, PO BOX 641, AUGUSTA, ME 04332-0641. Please mark the lower left corner of the mailing envelope: ST. GEORGE. Upon receipt of your note of interest, you will be sent a combined registration and waiver form. This form must be completed, signed, and returned to MOCA prior to your participation in the event.
All checks should be made payable to MOCA; please mark in the memo section of your check, ST. GEORGE. MOCA is a 501(c)(3) organization; an acknowledgment of your contribution will be provided you to use for tax purposes.