Symbolism at Oakland Cemetery: From the Cradle to the Grave

by Ashley Shares, Preservation Specialist

An example of a cradle-style grave at Oakland Cemetery.

An example of a cradle-style grave at Oakland Cemetery.

Bedstead monuments were very popular grave markers in the 19th and early 20th century. A bedstead is composed of a headstone, footstone, and cradling. These elements represent the headboard, footboard, and bed rails on a bedframe. This style of grave marker appealed to Victorian-era sentiments for three reasons.

First, heaven was likened to “returning home,” which was comforting to loved ones left behind because they could hope for a future where they were eternally reunited. A bed is a natural symbol of home. Second, the 19th century witnessed a phenomenon referred to by historians as the “feminization of death.” Public displays of mourning became fashionable, as did more beautiful, peaceful, and pleasant monuments and iconography. The bed is not only a symbol of the home, but of femininity and domesticity.  The third — and the most frequently cited — reason for the bedstead’s popularity is that it likens death to sleep, a notion that undoubtedly eased the sorrows of many mourners.

Bedsteads come in several forms and are made from a variety of materials, depending usually on the purchaser’s economic means, available stone, and current fashions. Headstones may be quite elaborate, often featuring iconography such as lambs or lilies, symbolizing purity and innocence. Most bedsteads at Oakland Cemetery are made of marble, the most popular material for monuments during the Victorian era in Georgia. However, a stroll through the grounds will reveal cast concrete and brick also used to make the cradling portion of a bedstead. 

Recently, Historic Oakland Foundation’s Preservation, Restoration, and Operations (PRO) Team found two very small and unique bedsteads, which were completely buried under six inches of soil in a lot near the cemetery’s pedestrian entrance on Memorial Drive.

The recently-uncovered brick cradles of two unknown infants.

The recently-uncovered brick cradles of two unknown infants.

These two features, which mark the burial location of two unnamed infants, are both made up of small un-engraved marble headstones and footstones and brick cradling. The discovery of these grave markers is very exciting because only a handful of burials at Oakland Cemetery are marked by bricks. Preserving these sites is extremely important because they represent a folk tradition that is rare in Victorian cemeteries.

PRO Team Field Notes: Scrubbing the Surface

by Sean Diaz, Preservation, Restoration, and Operations (PRO) Team Intern

Since its creation in 1891, The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) has worked on and sponsored preservation projects across the country. Thanks to a generous grant from NSCDA, the PRO Team took on a project to assess, clean, and preserve Oakland Cemetery’s female statuary.

A Georgia State University Student cleaning a historic headstone using D2 Biological Solution.

A Georgia State University Student cleaning a historic headstone using D2 Biological Solution.

Last year, Historic Oakland Foundation’s PRO Team conducted a survey to locate and inspect all 27 female sculptural monuments found in Oakland Cemetery. This fall, we identified five of those 27 statues that would make an ideal initial project to undertake. These five marble statues share common symbolism and form: each are Neoclassical in design, with the statue pointing towards the heavens, and the pleurant (mourning) figures all wear robes. However, cleaning them allows one to truly appreciate their individuality and craftsmanship. As is consistent with most of the sculptures in Oakland, these female statues are fixed upon bases of varying size. Three of the five monuments required ladders to ensure the entire monument was reached. While cleaning itself does not take long, the time needed to prepare — including bring water and moving ladders — does begin to add up. Nevertheless, lessons were learned, and the PRO Team is only getting better.

To safely and thoroughly clean the female monuments the PRO Team used a combination of small and large Nylon bristle brushes, two spray bottles, a bucket of water and D/2 cleaner. D/2 Biological Solution is an ecological cleaner safe for both the monuments and their surrounding landscape. It helps break down and remove layers of moss, lichen, dirt, and other environmental pollutants from the air and rain. A mixture of 5 parts water and 1 part D/2 was mixed in one spray bottle while the other had water. Cleaning the monuments began with very gently dry-scrubbing the stone to remove any loose debris or vegetation. Next, we sprayed the monuments with water to open pores in the stone. After the stone is dampened, its sprayed with the D/2 cleaner. This cleaner works best over time, so we allow it sit for a few minutes. When starting to scrub the stone, its best to keep it wet so the debris flushes away and we’re able to see what areas needed attention.

After repeatedly wetting the monument, spraying with D/2 and scrubbing again, we focused on areas that were particularly dirty. Lastly, the monument is rinsed with water. A big advantage of D/2 is that it continues to clean the stone over time; weeks after cleaning was completed, the stones still looked bright and revived. Read more about each of the monuments and how they were cleaned:

The Brown Monument
The Brown monument features a female sculpture atop a cap and die base. Located near the Bell Tower, the monument marks the final resting place for Mary M. Brown, who died in Atlanta in 1867 at the age of 34. The pleurant and pedestal are made of marble while the base is granite. The woman is adorned with a flower crown that denotes honor. Her right-hand holds a scroll symbolizing the deeds of the deceased and she leans against an upright anchor that symbolizes hope. Cleaning this statue took a single spray bottle of D/2 and around four hours.

The Brown monument before (left) and after (right)

The Brown monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The Atkins Family Monument
The Atkins family monument features a woman sculpture atop a cap and die base. Located near the Old Jewish Grounds, the large monument marks the graves of the Atkins family. The pleurant and pedestal are made of marble while the base is granite. Her right hand points up while her left holds an anchor symbolizing hope. Cleaning this statue took a bottle and a half of D/2 and roughly six hours.

The Atkins monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The Atkins monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The Blackmon Monument
The Blackmon monument is a marble angel on a die base with a cradle grave laid out below. It marks the grave of James M. Blackmon, whose death date is 1915. The angel is depicted with outstretched wings and her hand pointing up towards heaven, while she is gazing down over the grave. Her left-hand holds an Easter lily stem and her crown also bears the five-pointed star that symbolizes heavenly wisdom. On this statue, it is easy to see a stylistic element that has been eroded away on many others: her bare foot peeks out of her robes and rests on the billows of a cloud. Such a depiction often represents piety resting on the clouds of heaven. Cleaning this statue took one bottle of D/2 and a little longer than three hours.

The Blackmon monument before (left) and after (right).

The Blackmon monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The Hausman Monument
The Hausman monument is a female statue on a cap and die base with a ledger. The monument is located on Jewish Hill and memorializes Edna Arnold Hausman who died 1906 at the age of 34. The statue is marble while the ledger, cap, and base are all granite. The sculpture is a woman with her right hand pointed to heaven while the left hand holds Easter lilies and she looks down upon the grave. She wears a crown bearing the five-pointed star of heavenly wisdom. This was the smallest statue, however, including cleaning the ledger the entire monument took around three hours to complete.

The Hausman monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The Hausman monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The McNamara Monument
The McNamara monument, which like the others, features a female angel with her right hand pointed to heaven while overlooking the grave. Located near Jewish Hill, the monument is dedicated to John McNamara who died in 1894. The large simple Christian cross and base are granite while the statue is marble. She holds in her left hand a scroll symbolizing the deeds of the deceased and is crowned with a five-pointed star representing heavenly wisdom. Although this statue varies the most from the others, the larger base and simple design made it possible to clean it in just under three hours, using just one bottle of D/2.

The McNamara monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

The McNamara monument before (left) and after (right). Click to enlarge.

Protips from the PRO Team: Preservation Guidelines from the National Parks Service

by Ashley Shares, Preservation Specialist

The National Parks Service is known in the preservation community as a guiding light. It is a hands-on advocating, and educating body that has offered assistance and advice to state, local, and grassroots heritage preservation groups since the passing of the 1966 National Heritage Preservation Act.

One of NPS’s educational tools is the “Preservation Brief.” The Briefs are condensed manuals or guides pertaining to a specific area of preservation or restoration. The newest brief, entitled “Preserving Grave Markers in Historic Cemeteries,” was written by current and former members of the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology (a branch of the NPS).

I think the document as a whole was useful, accessible, and concise. It fulfilled its stated intent of “providing guidance for owners, property managers, administrators, in-house maintenance staff, volunteers, and others who are responsible for or are interested in preserving and protecting grave markers.” While it indeed does provide helpful guidance, it is by no means all-encompassing. Its broad overview of the topic should not be seen as a substitution for more in depth, hands-on training.

“Preserving Grave Markers in Historic Cemeteries” begins with a valuable overview of headstone types and materials. Monuments are placed in three categories: single element, multi-element, and structures. Identifying these categories is the beginning of an effort to build a “universal taxonomy” that will help preservationists create better written descriptions of cemetery features. As it stands, there is currently no universal typology used in the cemetery preservation world. This makes writing concise descriptions of the features at Oakland Cemetery difficult. However, this simple classification system will definitely help us build a consistent vocabulary moving forward. 

Next, the explanation of traditional cemetery materials managed to be very comprehensive without using hard-to-follow jargon. The description of the structural makeup of wood, masonry, and metals helps readers understand why these materials are susceptible to deterioration, setting them up for the brief’s next section.

A highly weathered marble “tab-in-socket” monument in Oakland’s Jewish Hill Section.

A highly weathered marble “tab-in-socket” monument in Oakland’s Jewish Hill Section.

The next two sections, “Weathering” and “Risk Factors” outline the deterioration that potentially may befall wood, metal, and stone grave markers. The authors present two categories of risk factors: natural — including inherent flaws in the material, moisture, and insect damage — and human activities such as vandalism, improper use of lawn equipment, and deferred maintenance. Two big thrusts of this section (which I am glad that they stressed) are that neglect of a cemetery allows for natural as well as human means of degradation to occur and that most human damage is not intentional. Improper maintenance is almost as hazardous as no maintenance, so it is paramount that caretakers understand the fragility of historic grave markers. Oakland Cemetery is fortunate to have a very careful and well-trained crew that is always careful when they trim grass around monuments. Unfortunately, most cemeteries are not so lucky.

Next, the brief proceeds logically to the components of headstone maintenance and conservation. The conduction of conditions assessments is presented as the first step in any preservation plan. Conditions assessments involve background research about the cemetery’s monuments, a survey of existing conditions, and recommendations to remedy or stabilize stones that have damage or deterioration. The authors stress the use of a form to document the findings of the assessment. Unfortunately, they did not provide an example form that might help guide inexperienced caretakers. Preservation staff members at Oakland use a standardized form which includes a map and key, written descriptions of conditions, and recommendations, and photographs of each monument from each cardinal direction.

A Georgia State University Student cleaning a historic headstone using D2 Biological Solution.

A Georgia State University Student cleaning a historic headstone using D2 Biological Solution.

The most vital part of this brief is its discussion of treatments. Treatments are defined as measures “used to preserve grave markers and protect them from future deterioration.” Some treatments, such as cleaning and lime washing are part of regularly scheduled maintenance. Others, such as pointing, resetting, and patching/filling are done on a need-based basis. Authors suggest that with proper training, cleaning of headstones is a task that can be passed along to eager volunteers, but more complicated treatments such as repair work should be conducted by a professional conservator. The preservation staff at Oakland, and at many preservation organizations, relies on D2 Biological Solution to clean monuments.

When talking about repointing historic mortar joints, the authors stress that the success of this undertaking is dependent on selecting the proper replacement mortar. Historic mortars, which many walls and monuments were originally pointed with at Oakland, are “soft” because of the high proportion of lime they contain. Choosing too hard of a mortar mixture, one that contains too much Portland cement, will likely cause future damage to the stone.

Mortar sample (top) from a historic wall in the Jewish Hill Section being matched to a custom-mixed restoration lime mortar (bottom).

Mortar sample (top) from a historic wall in the Jewish Hill Section being matched to a custom-mixed restoration lime mortar (bottom).

The resetting and repairing of monuments are described in this brief in a broad manner. This is not to say it was not a thorough overview. The writers explained the basic steps of resetting (careful removal of the monument, documentation of its dimensions, enlarging of the hole, tamping the soil, adding gravel for drainage, using proper equipment) but skim over the topic of repair. This is likely because there are so many variables that come into play that there can never be a “one size fits all” explanation. No amount of text, regardless of how detailed and exhaustive it may be, can properly teach inexperienced preservationists how to undertake these two treatments. That is why the authors stress the need for professionally trained conservators. Even at Historic Oakland Foundation, where we have a skilled and capable preservation staff, there are projects too big or specialized even for us. It is important to put safety first and never undertake a project that we are not qualified to complete. 

Metal wire reinforcement will help keep this new subterranean concrete base stable and support the monument that will be reset on it.

Metal wire reinforcement will help keep this new subterranean concrete base stable and support the monument that will be reset on it.

The final section of this brief is a list of additional readings for the logical next step in educating oneself about cemetery preservation. First and foremost is A Graveyard Preservation Primer by Lynette Strangstad. There are a host of other documents listed, but Strangstad’s work is a staple in this field that Oakland Cemetery highly encourages those interested in headstone restoration to read.

In general, I think this brief is a great resource for those new to the field of cemetery preservation. However, it did also offer a few helpful tips and hints for the professionals at Oakland. I was happy to see that its overarching themes included to “do no harm” and use the gentlest means possible to achieve results and to always call in an expert on complicated projects. The authors clearly understand the importance of sensitivity when it comes to cemetery preservation.

Oakland Cemetery asks donors to “Chip in for Bobby” on Georgia Gives Day

Nov. 17 is Georgia Gives Day and during this statewide day of online giving, Historic Oakland Foundation has a goal to raise $10,000 in an effort to preserve, restore, enhance, and share the 1.5 acre area surrounding the final resting place of golf legend and Grand Slam winner Bobby Jones.

Jones, who is buried at Oakland Cemetery alongside his wife Mary Malone and her family, is one of the Atlanta landmark’s most-visited residents. Of the more than 45,000 visitors Oakland Cemetery receives annually, an overwhelming majority visit the Jones lot and pay homage to the golfing great by laying golf balls and other mementos on his headstone.

With help from Georgia Gives Day funding, this restoration project allows HOF to restore and preserve nearly 700 headstones and mausolea adjacent to Jones; 700 square feet of brick walkways and 1,000 square feet of pea gravel concrete walkways; over 65 walls made of granite, marble, and fieldstone; and metalwork. HOF will also enhance the landscape in the Bobby Jones area by restoring trees, shrubs, and other plantings that correspond to plantings found at the 18 holes of Augusta National Golf Club, which Jones cofounded in 1933.

The funding will also support a long-term maintenance and conservation plan for the Bobby Jones area, to ensure that it remains safe and well-kept visitors. The funds raised on Georgia Give Day are only a portion of total funding needed to implement this restoration project. To date, HOF has raised $140,000 of the overall $760,000 needed to fully restore the hardscape and landscape in the Bobby Jones area.

“Oakland Cemetery is an integral part of Bobby Jones’ legacy, and this landmark restoration project is a critical step in sharing his story with the public,” said David Moore, executive director at Historic Oakland Foundation. “Every dollar we raise on Georgia Gives Day supports the Foundation’s mission to sustain and maintain Atlanta’s history for generations to come.”

Now in its fifth year, Georgia Gives Day is an online fundraiser that drives awareness and donations for Georgia- based nonprofit organizations. An initiative spearheaded by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, Georgia Gives Day encourages donors in Georgia and beyond to rally behind causes they believe in.

To support HOF’s goal on Georgia Gives Day, visit www.gagivesday.org/c/GGD/a/oaklandcemetery.

Masters of Preservation

by Neale Nickels
Director of Preservation

It’s April in Georgia. The smell of tea olive and jasmine is in the air; dogwoods and azaleas are in full bloom; and droves of people fly in to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as they make their way to see these and other plants, and perhaps a little golf, at Augusta National Golf Course. Many of them take a mile or so detour on the way to pay respect to the man who dreamed up The Masters, Mr. Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. Bobby Jones was buried at Oakland Cemetery in 1971 and since then, fans have visited his gravesite regularly. However, Masters Week is always a popular time at Oakland Cemetery.

This week, folks on their way to watch the practice rounds got a behind-the-scenes look at the kind of work that goes in to maintaining a gravesite. Like so many of the headstones in Oakland, Mr. Jones and wife Mary’s headstone had sunken to one side and to the back. There wasn’t a concern that it could fall and be damaged, but recently the PRO Team has been working to restore the area around the gravesite, which we refer to as (no surprise) The Bobby Jones Area. With the increased fanfare and expected visitation this week, we wanted to make sure the Jones lot is well-presented.

The process involves erecting scaffold around the stone, which supports a large I-beam. A trolley is attached to the beam, which rolls along its tabs. From the trolley, we hang a chain hoist capable of lifting about 2,000 lbs. Heavy straps are wrapped around the die, or top part of the stone, and it is lifted off the base. The trolley allows the die to be moved out of the way with ease. Then the base is moved using the same technique. Next, we use a tamper to make sure the ground is well-compacted, and then add crushed stone to level the site. We tamp the stone as well to make sure the angular pieces lock with one another. The base and die are then reinstalled using the same process in reverse. These pictures show the process to this point:

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Next, the PRO Team will clean the stone using a solution designed specifically for safely removing biological and environmental staining from the stone’s surface and within. The product we use will actually continue to clean the monument for months to come. The small joint between the base and die will also get some attention in the form of pointing, or applying a lime-based mortar to the joint, which will help stabilize it and give it a professional, finished look.

If you visit Bobby Jones this week, please check out the work we’ve done around his gravesite and consider donating so that we can restore the rest of the Bobby Jones Area! Also inquire about our recently updated Bobby Jones Conference Room in the Bell Tower, which is available to rent for private events or meetings.

The updated Bobby Jones Conference Room

The updated Bobby Jones Conference Room

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bjDuring Masters week, our neighbors across the street at Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House offer the Bobby Jones cocktail (sweet tea vodka and lemonade). When you order a Bobby Jones and keep the promotional glass, all proceeds are donated to Historic Oakland Foundation’s efforts to preserve and restore the Bobby Jones Area.

Additionally, our Visitors Center and Museum Shop has a wide selection of golf-related items priced 10% off, April 4 through April 10. 

A ‘Hex’ on Oakland

By Neale Nickels, Director of Preservation

PaversDon’t be alarmed, I don’t mean that kind of hex! I mean “hex” as in hexagonal pavers, which is precisely the reason for the big mess near the pedestrian gate on Memorial Drive. Oakland’s hexagonal pavers, which could date to the early 20th century (though we don’t know for sure) have suffered greatly through the years.

Sadly, ours were about 90% destroyed from settling and years of cars parking on them, creating an unsightly and unsafe walkway.

Our solution is to remove the damaged materials and salvage what we can for reinstallation, and install new pavers of exact size and similar color and composition everywhere else.

We’re in the early stages of the process now, and crews from Unique Paver Installations are working to prepare the site, hence the mess. That involves first removing the old materials, then excavating down about seven inches.

Next, crusher run gravel is brought in and compacted to make a firm base. The pavers will be set with polymeric sand, which hardens but remains somewhat flexible. The end result will be a new – and much safer – pathway in keeping with historic precedent. It will make a great improvement for public access to the Bobby Jones, Confederate, Jewish, and Rogers Hill areas in the cemetery. We hope you’ll come take a stroll soon!

 

Paths to Restoration

by Neale Nickels, Director of Preservation

“Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” [Genesis 11:3]

Good materials and hard work yield strong results. Recently, the PRO Team has been working to restore a long brick pathway in the Jewish Flats section, the original having been damaged during the installation of irrigation piping many years ago and patched with concrete and rubble. The damage was such that we chose to remove the entire path, salvage as many bricks that we could, and lay new bricks in their place. We chose two different bricks that closely match the color and characteristics of Oakland’s historic bricks (and are fired thoroughly, of course). We were also able to retain a majority of the original bricks that border the pathway, which is a nice feature.

Tools of the Trade: [L to R] 1. a margin trowel, 2. a well-worn brick trowel, 3. a homemade mortar scraper, made from a bent butter knife, and 4. a brass bristle brush used to clean mortar residue off bricks (we use this on new bricks only)

Tools of the Trade: [L to R] 1. a margin trowel, 2. a well-worn brick trowel, 3. a homemade mortar scraper, made from a bent butter knife, and 4. a brass bristle brush used to clean mortar residue off bricks (we use this on new bricks only)

After fighting bad weather and other obstacles, we have been graced with clear skies and warm temperatures long enough to make significant progress toward the completion of this project. As our backs and knees remind us, we have been mortaring the joints between the bricks using a buff-colored mortar that matches the original. The process involves mixing a batch in a wheelbarrow, filling grout bags (very similar to the icing bags used on cakes), and squeezing the mortar between the joints. We overfill them, and use a pointed trowel to press the mortar down, ensuring good contact on all sides. After some time to cure – but not too long – we then return and use a few other tools to remove the excess mortar. Again, a little waiting, and then finally we brush the surface on a diagonal to the joints, which gives them their finished appearance.

It can be a tedious process, but it yields good results and is done in a manner very similar to how it was done historically. With any hope, it will be in great shape for another 100 years. Completing the walkway will allow us to focus on leveling and squaring the coping that abuts the walkway and forms the borders for burial lots, which will really make the restoration “pop,” so to say.

Freshly mortared brick walkway in Jewish Flats.

Freshly mortared brick walkway in Jewish Flats.

Preserving Oakland’s historic greenhouse and coal house

HOF Greenhouse - by Historic Oakland FoundationThe dedication of the Beaumont Allen Greenhouse in November highlighted the relationships between Historic Oakland Foundation (HOF), Atlanta History Center (AHC), Buckhead Men’s Garden Club (BMGC) and the City of Atlanta, to name a few. With the impending arrival of Atlanta Cyclorama at AHC, the BMGC greenhouse was slated to meet the wrecking ball, but thanks to their gift to HOF, the building has a second chance (a third, really, as it moved once before) at the cemetery. You can read the full story here on our Projects page.

With the help of our partners, HOF restored function to the site of Atlanta’s very first greenhouse. We also focused much-needed preservation efforts on the historic ruin walls of the 1900 structure.

Now, a few things to note: Atlanta’s first greenhouse was indeed at Oakland, but it was built decades before the 1900 building. Around 1870, under pressure from the women who tended their family gravesites, the sexton petitioned for and was successful in building a pit-style greenhouse, which as best as we know was a walk-in structure dug in the ground to take advantage of more consistent ground temperatures, and heated by a stove. The greenhouse was so popular that shortly thereafter another structure was built, three times as large and heated by a furnace. During site excavations prior to the new construction, the PRO Team found substantial evidence indicating that it was the site of this and other early greenhouses at Oakland Cemetery.

Since the new greenhouse fits almost perfectly inside the ruin walls and they were not to be utilized as structural elements in the construction, we chose to preserve the walls in their current condition. That is, we left them uneven and in the overall appearance in which they were found. Along with the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, we felt the juxtaposition of old and new would provoke discussion and provide us a great platform from which to tell the story of the greenhouse and the entire “operations area” of the cemetery.

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Of course, we didn’t want to leave the walls crumbling. We have been working – and continue to work – on reattaching loose bricks and removing failing mortar and replacing it with a historically compatible match. On the freestanding east gable, we will soon add cantilevered metal support piers and restore failing areas. Where the west gable tied in to the coal house, we will highlight the “ghost,” or the mark left by the gable on the coal house wall.

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The mark left by the gable on the coal house is visible above the coal house door.

The coal house itself is receiving much needed attention, too. So far, two doors have been reconstructed and we are in the process of restoring the wooden sash windows. One more door and a few more windows remain to be preserved, but for now the PRO team is very much enjoying the space which has been re-purposed as our work shop.

We hope that the preservation of these two buildings will spark an interest in the entire operations area and greenhouse valley and that the legacy of Beau Allen, its namesake, will be honored through the work conducted therein.

Historic Oakland Foundation celebrates official opening of Beaumont Allen Greenhouse

David Moore, Sally Allen ribbon cutting - by Greg Parmer, City of AtlantaOn Nov. 19, officials from the City of Atlanta, Historic Oakland Foundation (HOF), Buckhead Men’s Garden Club (BMGC), and over 150 attendees were on hand to officially open the Beaumont Allen Greenhouse, a new addition to Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta’s oldest municipal burial ground.

“This greenhouse represents increased growth for Oakland Cemetery, both literally and figuratively,” said David Moore, HOF executive director. “With this structure, Historic Oakland Foundation can care for and grow more plants on-site, while further interpreting and sharing the cemetery’s connection to Atlanta’s past.”

The dedication ceremony included remarks from City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phuong; Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong; BMGC President Richard Dunville; Sally Allen, Beaumont Allen’s widow; and Moore.

Named in honor of the late Beaumont “Beau” Allen – son of former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. and a longtime leader at HOF – the greenhouse’s arrival was a result of a multi-player partnership between both public and private entities.

With Atlanta Cyclorama’s relocation to Atlanta History Center (AHC) in late 2014, BMGC was required to remove its greenhouse, which stood at the same location as Cyclorama’s new home at AHC. BMGC offered its greenhouse to HOF, and it was a perfect fit at the ruins of Oakland’s 1899 greenhouse, which was demolished in the 1970s.

“The Beaumont Allen Greenhouse represents an exciting addition to Oakland Cemetery, and will certainly serve Atlantans well for years to come,” said Phuong. “The greenhouse’s relocation and reconstruction is a great example of the power of partnership between the City of Atlanta and nonprofit organizations.”

The greenhouse opening follows HOF’s successful showing at Georgia Gives Day on Nov. 12, in which the organization reached its goal of raising $5,000 in support of the Beaumont Allen Greenhouse. Every dollar raised on Georgia Gives Day helps HOF’s gardens team properly interpret the greenhouse’s history as it relates to the cemetery and propagate a more diverse palette of Victorian-era plants.

Click below to watch the dedication ceremony, or for a full photo album of the greenhouse ribbon-cutting, please click here.

Projects on the Ledger: Jewish Flats Restoration

By Neale Nickels, Director of Preservation

A little while ago I wrote about the work we’re doing in the Jewish Flats this year. We’re progressing nicely, and have recently begun the process of repairing a brick walkway that was damaged and patched with concrete many years ago during an irrigation pipe installation (See the picture below and stand by for future updates).

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One of the more challenging projects we’ve had in this section involved three giant ledger stones and two huge headstones that had settled and shifted substantially. The monstrous marble monoliths were set on concrete strip footers on either end, with earth between them. Due to settling or possibly the partial collapse of a vault, there was a great deal of settling, creating a large depression below the markers that threw them all off-level. Our job was to remove the ledgers and headstones, correct the settling problem, and re-install them. The problem was how to pick up and move these slabs, which at about 9 inches thick by 3 feet by 6 feet weighed in the neighborhood of 2,200 pounds!

The solution was to lift them slightly using a chain hoist and a strap, slide a set of tracks and galvanized pipe underneath them, and use a winch and manpower to roll them off to the side. It worked beautifully, and with relative ease we were able to move about 7,000 pounds of marble safely out of the way. The pictures below capture the process:

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In the next picture, you can see the extent to which the ground settled below the normal grade line.

Picture5Next, we filled the cavity with crusher run stone and compacted it in layers using tampers. Then we created a form, laid in reinforcing material, and poured a concrete slab to support all three ledgers.

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Finally, we were able to move the ledgers back in place – a process that was basically the reverse of their removal. With the headstones in place, it is back to a safe, stable position that should hold up for many years to come. Once we complete the adjacent pathway, we will re-set the coping that surrounds these grave markers, clean everything, and put a bow on it.

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