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Preservationist inspects Grantville cemetery

  • By Jeffrey Cullen-Dean
  • |
  • Nov. 05, 2021 - 1:33 PM

Preservationist inspects Grantville cemetery

Jeffrey Cullen-Dean / The Newnan Times-Herald

Many of the grave markers in the Grantville City Cemetery are in need of refurbishment.

The headstones in the Grantville City Cemetery are in need of repair.

Joey Fernandez, a cemetery preservationist, visited the cemetery with members of the city's Historic Preservation Commission and the Grantville Cemetery Trust and found toppled headstones, collapsed graves and sunken markers.

According to a report by Fernandez to the HPC, it will cost $6,500 to repair the graves in the cemetery.

Marion Cieslik, chair of the GCT, said he's unsure at the moment if the GCT is capable of paying for the refurbishments in the cemetery.

"The city controls the funds, and we need to have a joint meeting between the HPC and GCT and take a good look and see what we can do," Cieslik said. "I don't know if we have those kinds of funds available. The city is probably spending $10,000 a year doing what they gotta do over there."

Fernandez said a couple of the tall obelisks in the cemetery are leaning and on the edge of falling over if they were to be bumped into by a lawn mower.

"There's a certain point where gravity starts speeding up the process," he said. "Eventually everything will end up on the ground, even if taken care of."

According to Fernandez, the obelisks will require a new foundation.

The deterioration in the cemetery is partially the result of lime mortar used in the late 1800s, when some of the first plots were buried, Fernandez said.

The lime mortar breaks down and causes some of the graves to sink. Lawn mowers and other equipment riding over those spaces can cause the process to speed up, said Fernandez.

To repair the cracked and broken headstones, Fernandez said, if hired, he would apply a material called akepox, a construction adhesive, to the graves, after cleaning the stones.

The cracks would then be filled in with the same stone as the marker and lime mortar that is softer than the marble used in the stones to prevent further damage from expansion during cold weather and freezing temperatures.

Fernandz said the damage to the cemetery was caused by nature and time.

"I wouldn't point a finger in any direction," he said. "Just all things need to be maintained."

After Fernandez's visit, refurbishing efforts headed by the HPC and GCT have slowed down.

The HPC and GCT planned to go before the city's administrative committee to encourage the city to help with refurbishing the cemetery, but Councilmember Mark King, the administrative committee's current chair, lost the reelection to the city council.

Selma Coty, chair of the HPC, said King wanted to wait until after the city council elections to meet with members of the HPC and GCT.

Now, Coty said the two groups plan to wait until a new administrative committee is appointed in January.

"Right now we have no reason to try to pursue a meeting with the administrative committee until after the first of the year," Coty said.