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Tombstones on the Kansas Prairie: A Cemetery Conservation Workshop

The Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council has been awarded a Heritage Preservation Fund grant from the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office to bring a professional cemetery conservator to Douglas County to teach us the correct procedures for cleaning tombstones, making minor repairs, and resetting small monuments.  It is the hope of the HCC that workshop attendees will represent a variety of cemeteries across Douglas County and beyond. 

The number of attendees will be limited, so it is important that those interested in attending submit a completed registration application form by April 15th.  Registration is free, but pre-registration is required. Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, May 17th - Day 1   Rain or Shine!   

Location: Flory Meeting Hall, Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2120 Harper Street, Lawrence

8:30 a.m. Registration Opens 

9:00 a.m. Classroom Session

The first day will begin with a morning classroom session led by preservation consultant Corey Thomas of Pishny Restoration Services. 

Topics: an overview of cemetery preservation standards, challenges, and techniques. Discussion will cover gravestones, monuments, and historic masonry as well as metal pinning, historic mortars, and issues of lawn maintenance. 

11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Lunch Break - On Your Own – Bring your lunch!

1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Location: Oak Hill Cemetery, 1605 Oak Hill Avenue, Lawrence

The workshop will move to Oak Hill Cemetery for hands-on learning experiences. 

Topics: Stone documentation and condition assessment, photography techniques, gravestone cleaning techniques for marble, sandstone, granite, and historic masonry. The philosophy of cleaning gravestones will be discussed, and safe cleaning techniques will be demonstrated. Attendees will clean stones approved for cleaning without doing harm. Staining on stones will be discussed. We will compare problems & solutions.  A basic tablet stone will be excavated. 

Friday, May 18th - Day 2

Location: Oak Hill Cemetery, 1605 Oak Hill Avenue, Lawrence 

9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.  

The second day of the workshop will focus on repairing fractured gravestones and monuments, how to remove old repair adhesives which have failed, problems with mortars and cement, the issue to pin or not to pin, stone epoxies, pros and cons and proper mixing and application. The workshop will also demonstrate how to set and reset multiple piece monuments, and raise and level stones. Group discussions. 

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch Break – Bring your lunch!   

What to bring? Your lunch, a folding chair or stool, sunscreen and water.

Rain Date: May 19

Please note that the hands-on portion of the workshop will be more physically demanding. Limitations and dangers of working with large and very heavy objects will be stressed for safety.  Also note that attendees will have access to Porta-Potty restrooms.  

For more information and registration forms, contact the HCC program coordinator at 785-330-2878