Cemetery commission narrows in on grant goals

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Eureka Springs Cemetery Commission

will be focusing on headstones near the

cemetery entrance for its conservation grant


While the cemetery’s nomination for the

National Register of Historic Places is being

reviewed, the commission is proceeding

with an application to the Arkansas Historic

Preservation Program’s cemetery grant. City

preservation officer Glenna Booth said the

grant application is due March 9, and the

commission can request between $5,000 and


The commission voted at its February

meeting to pursue the conservation of headstones

as its grant project and held a workshop

at the cemetery on Thursday, Feb. 22,

to identify which areas are most in need of

conservation efforts.

Bruce Wright, a local resident who recently

retired after 12 years working as a

stonemason with the National Park Service,

attended the workshop to offer his expert advice

on the cleaning and restoration process

for headstones.

Cemetery superintendent Pat Lujan led the

group to a large leaning headstone near the

front of the cemetery that he said was in danger

of falling over.

“It’s a beautiful piece,” Lujan said. “We

want to take care of it before it falls.”

Wright said monument companies would

probably fix the headstone by dismantling it

into sections, working on the footing and resetting

it. This leads to the possibility of chipping

the corners on the headstone, he said,

and trucks may not be able to get in between

the rows to work on certain stones.

“The more you handle it, the more subject

it is to damage,” he said. “I have the ways and

means to repair it.”

Wright said he would use a hydraulic jack

to lift the stone and put a metal plate and

boards at the bottom to prevent damaging the

base of the stone.

“Then we’ll pour and inject concrete into

it,” he said. “We’ll save a lot of money, and

we can do a lot more monuments this way.”

For the cleaning of headstones, Wright

said he recommends D/2.

“It’s environmentally friendly and has

been approved through the park service,” he

said. “D/2 will go into the pores of the stone

and get behind the lichen, moss and mold.

This stuff is rooting in just like a plant. You

want to kill that biological growth.”

Wright continued, “On these limestone

monuments, this stuff is feeding off the minerals

in the stone. It’s eating away at it and

will create pockets.”

The lettering on stones is created by sandblasting

in most cases, he said, which leaves

the pores of the stone open. He said water

then gets in, allowing lichen, moss and mold

to grow.

“That’s why a lot of the letters and numbers

are deteriorating,” Wright said.

He said he would recommend the commission

purchase a large water tank, a pressure

washer and a 55-gallon drum of D/2 in

order to clean the headstones in the cemetery.

Secretary and treasurer David Sallee said

the cleaning and conservation efforts would

probably take years.

“As big as this cemetery is and as many

old ones are in need, we’re talking a couple

of years,” he said.

“Yeah, you can’t do all of this in a year,”

Wright said.

Booth suggested the commission invest in

a conservation program.

“If we invest in putting together a conservation

program and getting the equipment,

we can schedule a seasonal work day where

we can train people how to clean the stones,”

she said.

Commission chairwoman Susan Tharp

asked if the priority for the grant should be

repairing leaning and broken headstones or

cleaning old ones.

“We can always train people to clean headstones

a lot easier than we can hire someone

to fix them,” she said.

The commission decided to focus the grant

application on repairing leaning and broken

headstones near the front of the cemetery and

along the road since they are the most visible.

Tharp said they would concentrate on headstones

made out of local limestone and marble

since those are deteriorating the fastest.

“What about driving down the road and

picking what you can first look at to start

with?” Sallee suggested.

“I think it would be a good idea to focus on

two levels back from the road,” said commissioner

Luther “L.B.” Wilson, “and see how

many we can do. We could get a lot of those

old ones done.”

Tharp agreed.

“I think if you utilize your money toward

the font and people see it more they’ll get on

board and maybe volunteer,” she said.

Booth said she would get a quote from

Wright on the cost of repairing the leaning

and damaged monuments and get a quote on

both the equipment and the cost of setting up

a conservation workshop for cleaning headstones.

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