Gravestones seem to be, like the memories of the people they honor, eternally immutable, intransient reminders of the lives, loves, and losses of the past. Even the substance they're made of is a metaphor for durability and permanence. And yet, as any resident of New England knows, soil moves, water erodes, tree limbs fall, frost heaves erupt, sun rays blister, roots expand, and mold advances. Constant attacks from weather, in addition to the mechanization of landscaping, conspire to destroy these stones as they once stood. Ironically, New England's historic cemeteries are dying. Fortunately, a handful of preservationists are laboring to safeguard the invaluable treasures within these early American cemeteries. Fannin-Lehner Preservation Consultants, my summer employer, is an award-winning company out of Concord, Massachusetts, that does just that. Although it is a small firm, it has taken on the ambitious task of restoring and repairing cemeteries throughout New England and beyond. And the company is not alone. Dozens of other people, from preservationists and historians to local townsfolk and eager volunteers, are energetically preserving these endangered markers from oblivion.
American Antiquarian Society