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Wooden Artifacts in Cemeteries Kimberly D. Dugan and Ronald W. Anthony

In every cemetery across the country, stone monuments and other artifacts are constantly under assault from the forces of sun, wind, rain, snow, ground water, pollution, and vandalism. For wooden grave markers and enclosures, the situation is particularly dire, and these unique monuments are in danger of being lost to the effects of time. For cemetery stewards, this constant assault creates a tremendous challenge—to forestall the deterioration of irreplaceable civic and personal historic resources. This article is intended to provide cemetery stewards with the fundamental information and tools needed to assess the conditions and facilitate the conservation needs of wooden artifacts in cemeteries. Because many cemetery organizations have limited funds for maintenance and preservation, this article focuses on low-cost practices and preventive maintenance procedures that can be conducted by laypersons with minimal technical training. Other preservation options that require higher levels of maintenance are also discussed; however the goal of this article is to provide a foundation for understanding wooden artifacts in cemeteries based on current knowledge and readily available practices, and to offer realistic preservation options for cemetery stewards with limited financial resources. Understanding Wood in Cemeteries and Implications for Historic Preservation Wooden artifacts in cemeteries experience more harsh environmental conditions than wood used in the construction of homes and buildings. They are smaller than buildings, are often exposed to the elements with minimal maintenance, and typically develop a desirable “historic� appearance over time that is as much a part of the artifact as the original artifact itself. As such, commonly-used procedures for repairing, painting, or replacing damaged or missing components may not be appropriate. Preservation and treatment options for wooden artifacts are limited because of these factors, as well as by their status as significant historical and cultural relics. Much of the research for this article was based on an assessment of wooden markers and grave enclosures within Aspen Grove Cemetery in

Profile for Chris Davis

Markers XXVII  

Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies

Markers XXVII  

Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies

Profile for cvdavis
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