Media Archive

Group restores cemetery

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 43, October 24, 2001

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

BROWNVILLE A Cemetery is not the most ideal place to spend the summer, but because Arthur Grant and several other local men did, the Brownville cemetery has been transformed.

"Most of the stones were black," said Grant, and more than 40 had fallen over or were crumbling. "They catch your eye now that they're clean."

With assistance from Justin Finkle, Harold Emery, Gerald McLain, Alan McLain, Carl Wilson, Gary Grant, and Rick Gallagher, Grant began repairing and washing the stones.

"We all agreed that the cemetery needed work done on it," he said. Grant said that when he and his wife walked by the cemetery they noticed how neglected it had been.

The men cleaned about 300 headstones using a bleach brush and steam cleaner, spending about 20 minutes on each monument. For the broken stones, Grant driled holes in the inside of the piece, inserted stainless steel pins, and filled in the cracks with white silicone or cement. After it hardened, the cement was painted white, completing the product.

Not quite all of the cemetery is completed, but Grant said they will continue to work on it. He said plans are to eventually build a new retaining wall, if funding allows, and repair the driveway. Also, a local greenhouse, Field of Dreams, has designed three flower beds to be placed at the front of the cemetery.

"This is truly a community effort," said Town Manager Sophie Wilson. She said the project was first brought to her attention in July of 2000, and that the volunteer work has not only saved the town considerable mason costs, but it has restored "a historical mark in the town."

Wilson said the volunteers have done "a phenomenal job ... Community members were upset about the condition of the cemetery because it looked like the town didn't care. Their hard work has transformed the cemetery."

Grant said the stones would probably need to be cleaned every three to four years, but he hopes to continue the project.

"I hope now that we've started, we can keep it going," he said. "It (the cemetery) is a source of history that most people don't think of."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.