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Graveyard Damage (46106 bytes)Cemeteries and graveyards face dramatic pressures -- from development, from abandonment and decay, from nature, and from vandals. In many respects they are also very different from other historic and archaeological resources, since they often involve a variety of functions -- sacred, artistic, historical and genealogical. The resources present include not only the human remains, but also the sculptures and monuments, as well as the landscape itself, making cemeteries -- and their preservation -- very complex.

Often there is a feeling by those trying to save cemeteries that work must be immediate. This usually isn't the case and, when preservation efforts are rushed, there is the potential for very serious -- and long-lasting -- damage. The adage, "haste makes waste," may nowhere be more true than when dealing with conservation and preservation issues associated with cemeteries and graveyards.

The preservation of graveyards involves a wide range of disciplines, including landscape architecture, historic and archival research, conservation, and at times even a structural engineer. In other words, it is unlikely that any one organization can do everything on any cemetery preservation project. Chicora Foundation, however, can put together the team your project needs -- and deserves. And it is that team which will ensure that your cemetery is appropriately treated.  Download Chicora's qualification statement as a pdf.

Chicora's Work in Cemetery Preservation

  • Treatments -- Conservation of stone monuments, sculpture, or ironwork is usually the last thing that should be undertaken. We focus on ensuring the stability and physical integrity of these materials without cosmetic reconstruction which can often lead to additional problems. Chicora Foundation also voluntarily subscribes to the standards of practice and code of ethics of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

  • Planning, Assessments, and Inventories -- Developing a master plan for a cemetery recording stone.jpg (64469 bytes)is a complex undertaking. A good plan will integrate issues of rehabilitation or treatment of markers, features, and landscape with issues such as priorities and the available budget. It will also address the long-term needs of the cemetery, particularly maintenance. One of first steps of any preservation project must be knowing exactly what is present, determining its condition, and evaluating its treatment priority. Chicora can quickly and accurately provide such an assessment, ensuring that you have the information on which to make sound decisions.   

  • Grave Identification -- On some projects it is critical to determine exactly how many unmarked graves are present and where they are located. Chicora has been responsible for the identification of graves at both Anglo-American and African-American cemeteries in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. We often use a penetrometer to measure ground compaction.

  • Mapping -- Chicora's team can also quickly and accurately record the location of both marked and unmarked graves. We use the newest reflectorless total station technology from Sokkia.

  • Historical Research -- Research at libraries, historic societies, archives, and other repositories can often locate historical documents such as maps, photographs,  earlier inventories, and local histories. These items provide not only background information, but may also help ensure that landscape activities, conservation treatments, and interpretation are all appropriate and accurate. Chicora has an exceptional background in historical research and can provide anything ranging from an overview to a detailed account of your cemetery.

  • Workshops -- Chicora offers exceptional workshops in cemetery preservation. We have worked with a broad range of historical organizations and museums to provide comprehensive workshops on preservation planning and conservation issues. Visit our workshop page to get a current listing.



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