Knowing how to properly restore vandalized headstones is a primary concern for those caring for older cemeteries. However, finding the right instructor can be a challenge. This past summer, Todd Scott, Preservation Architect for the King County Historic Preservation Program, attended a hands-on conservation workshop taught by Jonathan Appell.
Recently, Beyond The Ghosts… caught up with Todd to find out more.
Question: Your title is Preservation Architect. What does a Preservation Architect do?
I’m primarily involved with two Historic Preservation Program activities:
First, I work directly with property owners and/or contractors on various preservation projects involving King County landmarks. This can also include reviewing and recommending various preservation project proposal requests to the Landmarks Commission.
Second, I provide technical assistance and education to historic property owners who want to know how best to maintain their sites. I’ll also handle questions from people wanting to preserve historic resources that aren’t necessarily a designated landmark.
Question: Tell us about cemetery preservation conference you attended in August?
Sure. This past August, I attended a regional headstone conservation and repair workshop in Coos Bay, Oregon. It was co-hosted by Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery and the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries. Jonathan Appell was the speaker.
Question: What was it about?
The conference was an all-day, hands-on workshop focused on proper headstone restoration methods. Specifically, we practiced resetting and repairing stones at the Marshfield site. The most interesting aspect was walking around the area, seeing the various types of stones, discussing best-case repair methods and then deciding on the types of materials were needed. Afterward, we chose a handful of headstones and spent the rest of the day working on them.
Question: How was this conference beneficial?
From a professional stance, it was fascinating to learn about the various materials used to create a headstone. Personally, the biggest thrill was participating in an actual restoration. I mean, it’s one thing to study and read about headstone restoration but putting one back together is something else entirely.
Question: Would this kind of conference benefit King County?
Well, we’re actually hoping to host one next spring and with a little luck, our budget will allow Jonathan to host a local area workshop. If this is not possible, I’ll plan some of my own presentations.
Question: What additional resources are there for those readers outside the Pacific NW area?
I’d suggest checking out Jonathan’s website as he’s written quite a number of interesting articles for those looking for more preservation tips. I’ve also suggested some other sites below.
Question: What more can Beyond The Ghosts…do?
Keep getting the word out that there are technical resources available for people in King County. Right now, we are the only preservation program that’s really looking at cemeteries and while Washington State has been developing a database, we’re not sure how much assistance is available yet from that level.
Here are some other resources to keep in mind:
Question: Before we wrap up the interview, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yes. For me, cemeteries have become forgotten places and it’s important for us as citizens, to shift that mindset back to where the cemetery is made personal again – where we finally stop being scared off by perceived vandalism and overgrown vegetation.
All photos courtesy Todd Scott