Gravestone Conservation

AVEM0937Before (L.) and After (R.) … Today, July 15, 2019,  I made the long drive to Paxton, MA with the express purpose of cleaning the gravestone of my adopted Civil War soldier, Private George W. Gould.  I purchased a professional conservation kit, studied up a bit, and then spent 1 1/2 hours cleaning and scrubbing the stone. The results are quite extraordinary!
When I arrived I was pleased to see that the flag I had placed on Memorial Day was still there, along with the laminated tag I had attached to it referencing this project that includes a link to this website.


On my last visit, I noticed how bad the stone looked: dirty, discolored and marred with lichen and other growths.


I came equipped with a professional conservation cleaning kit that I had purchased, which was recommended to me by someone who regularly tends to soldiers’ graves.  I also brought along several gallons of water. I read the instructions prepared by a conservator carefully, watched a helpful video, and set off on a mission to carefully clean this stone.


While the final phase of cleaning involves utilizing a biologic called D/2, a safe biodegradable liquid that removes stains from mold, algae, mildew, lichens and air pollutants, most of the process consists of spraying water on the stone and scrubbing. Lots of scrubbing …

Scrubbing the Stone

… lots and lots of scrubbing 

IMG_2357IMG_2358It is tedious work, to some degree, but highly rewarding. And even exciting: gradually, the identifying marks of the original stonecutter became visible at the lower right hand corner of the stone!  This was fully obscured prior to clean. 


It turned out to be a lot of hard work, but the final result was quite impressive when compared to the original state of the stone!


The difference is especially apparent when juxtaposed with the nearby grave of Gould’s daughter, Ada, who died of illness in an orphanage when she was only seventeen years old. I plan to return and clean her gravestone next . . .


My work today is intended as a tribute and a salute to Private George W. Gould, who died at Cold Harbor in 1864 to save the Union and end human chattel slavery.