In the past weeks, Hannah and Rachel have been hard at work uncovering monuments for our walking tour, but they have returned to an earlier project from the beginning of the summer. In their first two days at Woodland, Hannah and Rachel pulled up a few stones in the Chadwick family lot, those belonging to Catherine, Eliza Florence, Frank, and John. After pulling the stones up, they cleaned them and prepared them for re-laying and rising. This can be done a couple of ways. One is to simply use an epoxy, which acts as a glue in order to fit the pieces together like a puzzle. Epoxy comes with a slight caveat though—it has a lifespan of about 25 years. This means that after 25 years, the epoxy will start to deteriorate before failing completely. In some cases, the epoxied pieces might even break off again. Another more extensive, yet more durable way is to pin the pieces back together. Pinning involves drilling holes on the inside surfaces of both pieces, making sure to line them up perfectly so that the fibreglass rods can slide into place. Then, a limestone mortar fills the gaps to hold the pieces together and the rods in place. After either method, the stones must cure for a few days, being held together by an adjustable strap and clamps. Once they are dry, the stones are ready for rising or re-laying.
Last Thursday, Hannah and Rachel raised Catherine’s monument with some help from Joey. It went up almost without difficulty. Since the stone was broken into pieces, it was quite fragile. As Joey and Hannah lowered the stone into its key, a small piece of the corner broke off. Luckily, the piece was not of substantial size or weight and could be reattached using an epoxy instead of having to remove the entire stone for re-pinning. As you can imagine, this process requires collaboration and teamwork. Hannah, Rachel, and Joey all had to move in sync with each other so that the 200lbs+ stone did not fall. Once the monument was upright, they supported it using clamps, shovels, and wooden horses. You might be thinking, a shovel to support a heavy stone? Since the shovel can be inserted into the ground, it actually provided extra stability to the stone as it cured over the weekend (not to mention, they kept the deer from knocking the stone over). Wooden horses were also used to keep the area contained just in case the supports failed.
The Chadwick lot is a rather special one for Hannah and Rachel. It was their very first project of the summer and also the lot where they learned all of the skills required to uncover the rest of the monuments this summer. Hannah says, “It was really great to finally see a finished product from one of our large projects. Rising the stone was quite fulfilling and it feels like we really are on our way to preserving history.” As you may recall from previous blog posts, this “preservation of history” we keep mentioning is really the core of our work this summer. If our team had not visited the Chadwick lot, if they had not raised Catherine’s monument, then memories might have been lost in the ground forever. The grass might have grown over them; the earth might have started to cover them. Now, these stones are ready to stand for another 100 years.