Cemetery supervisor says names, dates on headstones became hard to read
By: Jasmine Pelaez
Frederick, Md – Since 1995, Bernard Brown has walked through, and managed the Fairview Cemetery. These grounds house his daughter and several other members of his family. The cemetery dates back to the 1920’s and was created for African Americans during a time when black residents were not allowed burial in other cemeteries.
“Hopefully, it will never return to that but we still want to maintain something that can say ‘that’s our cemetery,'” explained president of the Fairview Cemetery Association of Frederick County, Bernard Brown.
But time has weathered some of the 600 graves that are sprawled throughout three acres of the grounds.
“People call me and sometimes they want to know where their family members are; I go to a stone and I can’t read it,” Brown said.
A group of Preservation Trades Network volunteers came equipped Sunday morning to tackle dirt and moss that has grown overtime using brushes and a biological solution.
“[The biological solution] gets sprayed on. It can be either scrubbed off to get the really big buildup or you can just spray it on and walk away and as the rain and the sun hit it, it continues to kill the growth on the headstones,” explained volunteer and training manager for the National Park Service Historical Preservation Training Center, Sarah Polzin.
Volunteers took several hours to restore headstones that once complete showed off a shiny marble finish.
“You can really see progress as you’re cleaning these headstones. You’re like ‘Oh my goodness, I see this name now, I can see this carving, look how beautiful it is.’ where that was obscured before. There’s a lot of instant gratification with this,” Polzin said.
“If you don’t restore, if you don’t maintain your history, eventually it will disappear. I can’t emphasize how important it is something like this,” Brown explained.
Volunteers managed to clean about 100 headstones.