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Preservation Intern Lauren Reeves Looks Back on Her Time at Oakland

Many of the historic preservation students at Georgia State University find lucrative employment through local cultural resource management firms. These firms specialize in historical research, documentation, and compliance with preservation laws. Many of my classmates working with these firms find themselves primarily sitting behind desks and write reports. I had all but resigned myself to that same fate when this internship with Historic Oakland Foundation fell into my lap last fall. Historic Oakland Foundation and Georgia State University have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for many years, with Georgia State supplying and compensating graduate research assistants to work with HOF.

My favorite project this semester was the recovery and repair of Lucy Gibson’s headstone. A few months back, the preservation volunteers were resetting some markers when one of their shovels struck something in the dirt with a bright and resounding “clink”. Using great care, they unearthed the headstone of Ms. Gibson. The marker was sugaring badly, so we consolidated it to stabilize the damage. Unfortunately, the break was still far too degraded to repair in the traditional fashion. As a solution, we poured a concrete form, using foam cut to the general shape of the marker. We set the stone in the concrete using a soft lime mortar, meaning that the repair would be reversible should more of the headstone turn up or a better solution be devised. Now Lucy is above the ground again and her burial place recognized.

This past year I built brick walls, patched and repointed broken markers, poured concrete, and learned the basic chemical compositions of various stones. These skills and this knowledge base have led me to my current employment with Landmark Preservation. Landmark Preservation takes on a wide variety of restoration projects, from cemeteries to historic façades. As I settle into my role at Landmark, I find myself constantly drawing on the skills and knowledge I gained during my internship at Oakland.

My journey from aspiring preservationist to a professional in the field has been both unexpected and deeply rewarding. If you are a student considering an internship with the Historic Oakland Foundation, my advice is this: if you want to do the fun stuff, you’re going to have to dig.

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