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It all falls down…

By Ashley Cissel Lee and Dustin Hornsby
While working in phase three, Oakland’s restoration crew was all set to repair a flat tablature near the tomb of Jasper Newton Smith.
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“When we raised the tablature, we started finding marble panels,” said director of restoration, Dustin Hornsby, “these panels indicated that this was actually a box tomb.”
As you may remember from our previous article, “What’s in a name?”,  a tablature is a flat stone that covers the entire grave space. A box tomb is a structure resembling a rectangular box, made from stone with a ledger/tablature stone on top. Box tombs are placed over a grave and are typically hollow.
“A box tomb may collapse for a couple of reasons: the foundation settles unevenly or ferrous metal crimps, which are like big staples used to secure the corners, begin to rust,” explains Dustin.
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To repair the box tomb, Dustin and his crew first remove all the panels from the grave site, then they pour a new concrete slab foundation. After the concrete sets, the crew works to raise the panels and replaces the ferrous crimps with ones made from stainless steel.
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To further support the stone tablature that goes on top, Dustin always builds concrete or brick piers, “Overtime, soft stones like marble can begin to bow. By building the piers we add extra support to the tablature.”
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This box tomb collapsed decades ago- a survey of Oakland from 1991 records this marker as a tablature. Because of this collapse, this particular tablature was extremely warped.  Dustin decided it needed extra support.
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On one end of the tomb, they built extra support piers that mimic the warped bottom profile of the tablature. The tablature was placed on top of the piers and panels and secured with lime mortar.
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“This repair is not complete. We still need to clean the marker, and we will finish by filling the gap between the tablature and the panels with spare marble pieces cut to size.”
Though markers, walls, and box tombs may fall down, the Foundation will always be here to pick up the pieces at Oakland.

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