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Restoration Surprises: The Chosewood Lot on East Hill

The PRO Team is happy to report that restoration work on East Hill is continuing at a tremendous pace. Due to irregular and uneven grading on the lots, we have been spending more time unearthing lost cradling and leveling large ledgers than in previous sections. One such lot is the Chosewood lot located in the Southeast corner of the cemetery just as you enter the new East Gate. Over the years soil, mulch, and other environmental debris piled up and covered a unique feature of the lot: a concrete grave cover.

Concrete grave cover reconstruction at the Choosewood lot

We have seen similar grave covers around the cemetery, however, this one was severely broken, perhaps due to a large limb falling from the oak tree above or simply years of neglect and erosion. Often, we assume concrete to be a less desirable material or one intended to be temporary. Because this cover was so thin, we initially assumed it was a place holder as the larger marker was being carved. However, upon further investigation, we discovered that the grave cover does not predate the large granite marker also on the lot. We know this because of an indentation of the granite marker left in the concrete where the two met, meaning the concrete was poured and shaped on-site. Furthermore, the marker and burial record indicate two burials, Charles L. and Dora Chosewood, but only Dora, who passed in 1917, has a cover.

The Chosewood grave cover after reconstruction

To repair the grave cover, we first removed the pieces and placed them as we found them on a large piece of plywood. With the pieces removed, we regraded and compacted the soil so the cover would sit just above the surface. Pieces that clearly locked back into place with each other were secured back together using a two-part epoxy. Now with the large pieces together, we carefully placed them back on a bed of soft lime-based mortar. Using the same mortar, we pieced back the smaller pieces and then filled the voids. To match the look of the old concrete, we used a larger sand aggregate and added larger pebbles. Using a damp canvas and tarp, we were able to make sure the mortar cured correctly and ended up with a very close color match. After a few months of weathering, the fills match even more. While our work on the cover was complete, work on the lot continued. We worked closely with the Gardens department to come up with ideas to protect and maintain the lot. They were able to keep the historic boxwood hedges on the lot and used recycled mulch, new sod, and Lenten rose as ground covering to create a woodland type garden that discourages anyone from getting too close to the grave cover. The transformation of this lot and the others in the area has us very excited about where the rest of East Hill is heading.

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