Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mixed feelings

Pleasant Hill Cemetery was recently restored by Jerome Township, Union County, Ohio, the 1800s gravestones cleaned and repaired so that they look almost like new.

After visiting, post-restoration, my feelings were mixed.

First: This looks a bit too much like a Stepford cemetery. Too clean, too straight, too perfect.

Then: Is that a bad thing? Granted, it looks less old, less vintage-y. But these were not old gravestones when they were originally placed and grieved over by family members and friends.

Maybe like new is another way of saying as intended.

The restoration of the gravestone for Wm. B. Stone (d. 1857) is dramatic. Compare my photo below to a 2010 photograph of the same stone on

Aug. 1, 1857,
61 Y. 6 m. 22 d.
Blessed are the dead who die in
the Lord henceforth they rest
from their labours; and their
works do follow them.
There can be no mixed feelings about the restoration of this gravestone. Look at the high relief of the pointing hand! A beautiful carving, a beautiful monument.

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Union County, Ohio


  1. A cemetery near me was cleaned and restored like this in the last year or two. Each week when I drive by I have to admit that I like it. There are a lot of marble stones there and the effect is very dramatic.

    1. Another cemetery near here is on the side of a west-facing hill. Many marble gravestones, and the sight from a distance in the afternoon sun is amazing!

  2. To see the before and after for the Stone (double meaning in this case) you chose to showcase was just amazing!

    There is a certain charm to an old graveyard that restoration may diminish somewhat. I would liken it to restoring an old painting though. You may be taking away the patina of age from it, but you are allowing the beauty that the craftsman originally intended to show through. It is an effort at conservation; to preserve the work for generations to come. And, I hope that Mr. Stone's family will be able to appreciate the restored beauty of his marker for generations to come.

    You can read about a major painting conservation effort at:

    They are restoring 16 paintings done by Gilbert Stuart of the founding fathers, among others.

    1. The comparison to restoring an old painting!--just perfect!


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