Photo: Neela Wickremesinghe
Visit any cemetery, anywhere in the world, and you’ll see the impact of weather and time on the sculptures, headstones, and mausoleums. Green-Wood has an unwavering commitment to conserving its historic monuments and has completed many major projects and improvements this year. Seven mausoleums were restored throughout the Cemetery, four by an outside contractor as part of the Hurricane Sandy relief, and three by Green-Wood’s restoration team. The most notable among these was the Niblo Mausoleum (ca. 1852), completed in time for Green-Wood’s annual A Night at Niblo’s Garden event that highlights the Gothic waterfront structure.
This spring, the Cemetery hosted the first cohort of the Bridge to Craft Careers program, presented in partnership with World Monuments Fund, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, and the International Masonry Institute. The program trains young adults in the basics of stone restoration and opens up the possibility of union construction work to a traditionally underserved population. During the program, the students and crew completed the full restoration of the Miller Mausoleum (ca. 1854).
In addition to large scale projects, Green-Wood’s restoration team also reset more than four hundred headstones and small monuments throughout the Cemetery. Many of these resets were completed during the summer as part of the Careers in Technical Education Externship program of the New York City Department of Education. Students from two preservation-focused high schools spent five weeks working alongside the restoration staff rehabilitating three public lots. During the program, more than 100 headstones were reset and forty-seven previously buried monuments were uncovered.
During the winter months, the restoration studio was busy as the team completed discrete repairs on headstones, sculptures, and other small monuments. The studio continues to be an integral part of the success of the department and is always full of changing projects which include ornamentation replication, stone carving, and stone conservation.
For visitors to Green-Wood, the restoration and care of the hundreds of thousands of monuments at the Cemetery may seem overwhelming, but to the team that lovingly oversees their conservation, it is a responsibility and a privilege they are committed to for decades to come.
If your family has a historic burial site at Green-Wood and you’d like a conditions assessment and cost estimate for conservation work, reach out to us and inquire. We have worked with hundreds of lot owners over the years.