Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Community, Conservation & Citizen Science - Page 17

Egyptian Revival Gateway Preservation Completed By Gus Fraser, Vice President of Preservation & Facilities and Robin Hazard Ray, Mount Auburn Cemetery Volunteer Docent Spring 2017 saw the completion of a two-year comprehensive renovation of the Mount Auburn’s historic Egyptian Revival Gateway. Support from institutional and individual funders was key to the success of the project. The gateway, built originally of wood in 1832 but rebuilt a decade later in Quincy granite, is the grand public face of the Cemetery onto Mount Auburn Street. For many years, the small lodges within the gate housed a gatekeeper, who monitored the admission of carriages. The function of the gateway has evolved, though, and for decades now it has hosted the important bird-board, on which birders write the location of sighted species, as well as a rack of maps and other visitor literature. More recently, a computer kiosk was installed, allowing visitors to look up grave locations and access other information about the Cemetery. But the years were rather hard on the structure. Sealants failed, introducing leaks into the lower areas. During heavy rains, the narrow downspout was frequently overwhelmed. An unfortunate run-in with a truck had left the massive wrought-iron gate in need of repair. The concrete floors had developed cracks. The windows, which had been replaced at some point in the past, were in poor condition. And the combined effects of pollution and biological growth had darkened the light-gray tone of the granite. Jumpstarted with a matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a successful fundraising effort allowed the enormous project to get underway in 2015. Cassidy Brothers Forge removed the great cast iron fence and began the laborious process of repairing, repainting and finally reinstalling it (this work was detailed in the Spring 2017 issue of Sweet Auburn). For the second phase of the project, Phoenix Bay State Construction began work on the gatehouse structure, carefully cleaning the granite, removing biological growth and staining from pollution. Mortar joints were cut and repointed, and a new sealant was installed in the joints above the windows and between the granite slabs that form the roof. Larger holes in the granite were repaired with stone dutchmen, and smaller ones (<1/2”) with tinted epoxy. After the masonry work was complete, wood win- dows were removed for repair and repainting by carpentry contractor M.J. Mawn. Wood dutchman repairs were made to the wood window sills and surrounds, followed by repainting. The doors that open to the street side of the building were made operable and repainted. The alcoves, which are open to the elements all year long, needed a great deal of attention. The granite walls, columns, and roof were cleaned with a masonry cleaner. Mortar joints were cut and replaced. Larger downspouts were installed through the granite lintel supporting the roof slabs, and the downspout drain was enlarged to accom- modate heavy rains. The deteriorated concrete floors were replaced and finished to match the texture of the existing weathered concrete. With all the work now complete, the Egyptian Revival Gateway is set once again to welcome visitors and to grace Mount Auburn Street as a testament to the historical char- acter of both the Cemetery and the City of Cambridge. And the bird board is back up! Support for this project provided by: Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust City of Cambridge Historical Commission Community Preservation Act Grant Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund Through a callabaorative alliance with and 2017 Volume 2 | 15