Thursday, May 21, 2015

“Monuments Men” Visit Mount Moriah Cemetery on Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2015 will be celebrated in an unusual way at Mount Moriah Cemetery (half of which is in Philadelphia, half in Yeadon, Pennsylvania). Two companies, Kreilick Conservation LLC (of Oreland, PA) and the George Young Company (of Swedesboro, New Jersey) will donate their services in an effort to upright, restore, and in some cases, reassemble some of the toppled U.S. military veterans’ grave markers and monuments. The day’s work will be overseen by Ken Smith of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. The non-profit, volunteer organization currently coordinates all such restoration efforts.
Friends' treasurer Ken Smith (L) with T. Scott Kreilick of Kreilick Conservation LLC

T. Scott Kreilick’s company specializes in laboratory and field analysis of materials, condition assessments, emergency response and stabilization, treatment, documentation, and maintenance of architecture, monuments, sculpture, and objects. Young’s company is a heavy hauling, rigging, and transport firm best known for moving the Liberty Bell to its current place on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The George Young Company has been in business since 1869 and Mr. Young’s ancestors are buried on the Yeadon side of Mount Moriah.

Volunteer workers at the Young family monument

Following is the list of toppled monuments and headstones marking the graves of veterans (and others) that will be worked on (along with the cemetery section in which they reside):

1. Brevet Brig. Genl. John K. Murphy 1796-1876 Section 128

2. Brevet Brig. Genl. Edwin R. Biles 1828-1883 Section 30

3. Major John Lockhart 1833-1917 Section 201

4. Lieut. Wm. Rainey Ritchie 1877-1904 Section 200

5. Samuel Watson 1838-1885 Section E

6. Thomas T. Tasker, Jr. 1799-1892 Section 129

(Click link to read about U.S. military veterans buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery.)

Kreilick examining monument at Mount Moriah
Kreilick Conservation, LLC proposes to wash the individual granite components of each monument. Their restoration specialists will fill cracks by injection grouting and color-matched mortar fills. Some cracks or detached elements that require more extensive intervention may be pinned to facilitate the repair and stability. Individual monument components will be rigged and repositioned by George Young Company personnel. Kreilick Conservation personnel will provide conservation oversight. These services are being provided at no charge.

All services provided by Kreilick Conservation, LLC are conducted in accordance with the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works’ (AIC) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, and in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Restoration.

Masonic Circle of St. John, Mount Moriah
Kreilick and Young have partnered to do similar work in the past, volunteering their company’s resources (e.g. people and cranes) at other Philadelphia area cemeteries. Their goal is to accomplish what they can in a single day. In 2005, for instance, they re-set 36 headstones at Montgomery Cemetery in Norristown, PA, that had been pushed over by vandals. The two men team up for such projects on Memorial Day to focus attention on the need to maintain the region's historic cemeteries. Many are deteriorating.

The work at Mount Moriah is even more ambitious than their Montgomery Cemetery project. Most of the damage to the larger structures at Mount Moriah was probably caused by ground subsidence or overgrowth of trees, rather than vandalism. Each of the six monuments is considerably larger and heavier than a simple headstone. Uprighting and reassembling fallen granite obelisks and other memorials requires leveling the massive bases and using a crane to lift the pieces. Then, the pieces must be secured.

Kreilick meeting with Ken Smith (right) to plan the resetting of monuments

We applaud the efforts of Kreilick Conservation, LLC and the George Young Company in assisting the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. in this restoration work. Their planned endeavor to raise these monuments to the fallen is a fitting tribute to the deceased. Memorial Day, after all, is the day the United States has set aside to remember and honor those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. 'History,' as they say, is what we deem worth remembering.

References and Further Reading: