Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Connecting the Present with the Past - Page 9

sweet auburn | 2019 volume i The marble was soiled with black accretions of biological growth and black gypsum crusts, and the stone had suffered dramatic erosion due to age and exposure to the fluctuating New England climate. Several alarming deep cracks ran through the architrave, and numerous small fissures had formed throughout the entablature. Conservators also found evidence of prior efforts to repoint the structure as well as fragments of cement-like mortar along the pilasters and the sides of the monument. By 2018, the Appleton Monument was urgently in need of conservation. Fortunately, Mount Auburn has experienced preservation staff and established practices in place to oversee a conservation project of this scale and importance. As stewards of an outdoor landscape of art and nature, we acknowledge that deterioration is an inherent threat and only perform treatment and maintenance procedures that ensure preservation of these historic monuments well into the future. One of the Cemetery’s biggest challenges is the cost of monument conservation projects, which are not covered by the Cemetery’s restricted endowment. Mount Auburn is therefore very grateful to have received contributed funds to make this critical work possible. In August, conservation treatment began on the Appleton Monument with photographic documentation and an assessment of its stability. The conservation team washed the marble with soft brushes to reduce the soiling and employed a handheld laser to remove gypsum crusts from the fragile areas of the carving. Conservators from Daedalus then treated the monument with a chemical consolidant to strengthen the stone and minimize losses. Joints between the stone were carefully filled with a soft lime mortar, and smaller cracks and fissures were filled with a reversible adhesive resin. Both were mixed with different shades of marble dust to blend with the color of the stone. Preservation work on the Appleton Lot will also include new landscaping to further enhance the monument’s siting and add horticultural diversity to the area. Plans housed in Mount Auburn’s Historical Collections Department reveal that William Appleton, Samuel Appleton’s nephew, created the original planting plan in 1875. Although most of the plants have been replaced over the years, a 143-year-old Ginkgo tree still stands on the northern edge of the lot. A grove of evergreen trees dating to the 1940s provides a backdrop for the memorial, but the site will be dramatically enhanced by new plantings planned for 2019. (See article on pp. 8-9 for details.) If left unattended, erosion of the Appleton Monument would have continued unabated, resulting in an accelerating loss of detail and eventually meaning. Thanks to contributed support, the Friends of Mount Auburn has saved for posterity a nationally significant work of commemorative art in a pleasing horticultural setting. It is beautiful to behold once again. Since 2014, the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery has been working to raise funds for conservation work on the most significant monuments on our grounds. The Cemetery’s diverse collection of commemorative art provides aesthetic richness, historical significance, and deep personal meaning to the extraordinary beauty of the Cemetery’s landscape. Many of these monuments date from the nineteenth century and now require an extra level of care and maintenance after years of exposure to the elements. The work was made possible with contributed funds from: Judith J. Stackpole Preservation Endowment Fund Above: Appleton Monument before conservation. Photo: ©Greg Heins, 2014. Below: Conservator Josh Craine and Vice President of Preservation & Facilities Gus Fraser celebrating the completed conservation of the Appleton Monument. 7