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Cemetery Preservation
Maintenance & Restoration

First Presbyterian Church Columbia
First Presbyterian Church, Columbia

Cemetery restoration projects need to consider cemetery landscape features such as walls, fences, and walkways; plantings; and grave markers. Though they require hours of hard work, restoration projects reflect our respect for our ancestors and their culture and for our history. Keep these key guidelines in mind:

  • Educate yourself about appropriate maintenance and conservation techniques for historic cemeteries before you begin.
  • Research and record the unique history and physical characteristics of your cemetery. Develop a master plan and establish priorities.
  • Respect and preserve distinctive historic features of the cemetery including fences, walls, and walks; trees and shrubs; vines, flowers, and ground covers; and grave markers.
  • Use the gentlest procedure possible for cleaning. Never use abrasive cleaners, sandblasters, or harsh chemical cleaners on grave markers, fences, or other features.
  • Use an experienced professional to repair gravestones.
  • Inappropriate work can damage historic gravestones or speed their deterioration.
  • Assume unmarked graves exist and avoid disturbing either the ground or the remains.
  • The website of the Association for Gravestone Studies is a good source of information, including two articles on cleaning gravestones, "Review and Evaluation of Selected Brand Name Materials for Cleaning Gravestones" and "Tools and Materials for Gravestone Cleaning Projects."