Great Camp Sagamore will hold a two-day presentation on cemetery and gravestone restoration on Tuesday, September 27th, and Wednesday, September 28th.
For many people, cemeteries are sacred sites, locations that not only provide spiritual comfort for both the living and the deceased, but also help communities maintain connections with their collective cultural history. Over time, however, many small cemeteries fall into disrepair and decay, as loved ones move on and communities grow. For its part, New York State is home to thousands of neglected or abandoned cemeteries, many of which are technically the responsibility of their surrounding communities.
Over the past decade or so, many individuals in these same communities have come to recognize the value of abandoned cemeteries, and their important role in honoring the deceased and preserving local history. What they lack, however, are the tools — legal, instructional and physical — to help them in their efforts to preserve and honor these important places.
To address this need, Great Camp Sagamore will host guest speakers and workshops which will not only help to determine whether and how to restore a neglected local cemetery, but also provide guidance on how to physically restore gravestones and monuments properly.
Tuesday, September 27th:
The program will begin on Tuesday morning at 9 am, with a presentation by David Fleming, a consultant in cemetery regulation, operations and abandonment with the firm of Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & Clyne, LLP in Albany. Fleming will provide an overview of town cemetery management, and the legal responsibilities and obstacles that communities face when they attempt to preserve or restore abandoned local cemeteries.
Following David Fleming’s talk and a short coffee break, Dennis Montagna will introduce workshop participants to the key elements of preservation planning, the materials that are used in cemetery settings, the varied ways and extent to which these materials fail in outdoor exposure over time, available treatment options for decaying stones and monuments, and programs of long-term care. Montagna is Director of the Monument Research & Preservation Program of the U.S. National Park Service.
After lunch in Sagamore’s Dining Hall, participants will reconvene to examine some of the practical aspects of gravestone preservation and restoration. First, Reed Antis of the Town of Moreau, will speak about his journey into the world of lost and abandoned cemeteries. Antis’s presentation will focus on the steps he has taken to locate forgotten cemeteries and rescue them from disappearance and disrepair by using proper preservation techniques. Reed Antis has rallied his local government and volunteers to assist in his efforts to restore dignity to these places of remembrance, and will provide some insight and advice about how to solicit help in the process of cemetery restoration.
Following Antis’s presentation, Joe Ferrannini, founder of Gravestone Matters, a restoration firm focused on cemetery preservation, will discuss the process of proper gravestone restoration, including the most current tools and techniques used in gravestone maintenance today.
Wednesday, September 28th:
Participants will join experts, led by Joe Ferrannini, for a hands-on restoration technique workshop being held at a local cemetery (the Cedar River Cemetery in Indian Lake. Here, participants will get the chance to see some of the actual work done by preservation experts as well as the kinds of work that committed volunteers can perform to maintain and preserve the cemeteries in their own communities. Participants will have lunches packed to eat at the site.
Cost (accommodations include lodging in double-occupancy, shared-bath room in historic lodge, plus all meals — limited singles are available for an extra $20/night):
1) 2-day Program and 3-night (Mon/Tue/Wed) lodging & meals: $299/double or $359/single
2) 2-day Program and 2-night (Mon/Tue or Tue/Wed) lodging & meals: $259/double or $299/single
3) 2-Day Program and Tuesday lodging & meals: $189/double or $209/single
4) 2-Day Program activities only, including lunch each day: $99/person
Other accommodation options (hotels/B&Bs/campgrounds) may be available nearby. Inquire with registrar about options.
Sign up today by contacting Sagamore’s Registrar, call (315) 354-5311 x1021 or email: [email protected]
Great Camp Sagamore is located on Sagamore Road, in Raquette Lake.
Photos from above, Gravestone, a headstone disappearing into cemetery soil, date of death June 18 1854, before restoration, and the same headstone after restoration, provided.