Cemetery Preservation Foundation

The following is intended to help support the understanding of methods and practices of preserving the resting place of our ancestors. For many these sites are of value for reasons from the historical understanding of our forbearers and the intersection of societal groupings to the objects of art or intangible heritage they contain. The value of preserving these sacred spaces allows us to understand our past and what we value as a society. Many sites and people do not know where to start in preserving the resources they manage or cherish especially as the integrity of their physical spaces becomes unstable as time passes. These pages are meant to give a foundation to discuss the challenges of preserving our ancestors’ resting places and give direction in formalizing an approach to maintaining or in many cases saving these sites.

Where to Start

  • Congressional Cemetery

    An overview of the methods and practices of preserving a gravesite.

  • Cemetery with wooden crosses

    When approaching any cemetery project, we need a basis for decision making.

  • Above ground stone tomb
    Master Plan

    A Master Plan is a road map that shows us where the cemetery is and where it is going.

Understanding the Cultural Landscape

  • Gravestones in field

    How to review and document a gravesite and markers on a micro and macro level

  • Cemetery with colorful flowers and trees
    Landscapes and Vegetation

    How to manage vegetation in a gravesite.

  • Wooden grave markers

    Encouraging the public to visit and explore public burial grounds and cemeteries increases awareness of the value of these sacred sites.

Understanding Materials

  • Cemetery with large stone monument centered in photo
    Materials and Monuments

    Stone, brick, concrete, metal, and wood are the most common materials used for grave markers.

  • Fence around gravestone

    Fences are an important contributing feature to the historic character and fabric of the landscape, yet their care is often overlooked.

  • Woman cleaning stone
    Cleaning Grave Markers

    Cleaning stones should be done with the gentlest means possible.

  • Stone Wall

    Historic cemeteries can contain a variety of historic masonry features.

  • Cemetery in the evening
    Moving Materials

    When working in gravesites one of the major health and safety concerns is being able to stabilize monuments.

  • Cemetery with ornate stone tombs

    Limewashes have long been used as surface finishes on buildings and other structures, on both the interior and the exterior.

Part of a series of articles titled Cemetery Preservation Course.

Last updated: February 28, 2024