Preservation With A French Accent At Green-Wood

Green-Wood Cemetery was graced on Thursday, August 8, with the presence of preservation volunteers both from this country and France. Determined to make granite shine, the volunteers –five from France representing Preservation Volunteers, and three from The Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design – diligently applied themselves to the task at hand.

Preservation Volunteers has been bringing both French and American citizens together for two weeks of exploring as well as restoring pieces of historic value. The first project completed was at the Bartow-Pell Mansion in the Bronx the previous week; the project at Green-Wood occupied the second week of their volunteer effort.

For Camille Morvan, America was not her first stop but Australia, and she will be traveling afterwards. “I’m doing this for my job, but sometimes just with my family or friends because I like to do this, but this is the first time in other parts of the world,” she said.

The French volunteers tended to the gravestone of French wine merchant and importer, Jacob Tartter, who was interred in Green-Wood in 1885. It’s a particularly attractive stone, featuring Tartter’s face in the center, and the Gallic phrase, “Mon Epoux Regrette,” chiseled into the stone at the request of Tartter’s widow to express her sorrow at her husband’s death.

To clean the piece efficiently, volunteers first cleansed the stone with water, mild detergent, and long-handled bristle brushes. Biowash was used to wash away any biological growth and afterwards thin coats of Butcher’s paste wax were applied on as the volunteers buffed the stone gently by hand.

“We look forward to strengthening our partnership with Preservation Volunteers each year and with our combined effort are making strides in restoring the beauty and integrity of some of Green-Wood’s most prized monuments and structures. I would like to thank all of the volunteers for their hard work and dedication,” said Richard Moylan, president of Historic Green-Wood, in a statement.

Not only did the volunteers leave their mark here; New York and left its mark on them as well.

“I work for the French government doing restoration and preservation, and last year, I worked in a cemetery in France doing restorations of graves and so on. I can’t explain why there is such a soul in New York, but I can feel it,” said Preservation Volunteer Sylvie Bauer.


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