Volunteers clean up piece of history

Young volunteers were put to work restoring a piece of New York’s Civil War history at Green-Wood Cemetery. Two student interns from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design were joined by six French Preservation Volunteers to clean up burial stones on Thursday August 8.

“I got involved through my school. They heavily advised us to get field experience and I got two excellent supervisors,” said Luis Ramirez, a student intern from Williamsburg High School. “We’ve learned a lot skills to help us in life.”

The group, supervised by two Green-Wood employees, cleaned up the Tinker family lot, a 12-foot-tall granite monument surrounded by the stones for Charles Tinker, his wife and four children. During the Civil War, Charles Tinker worked in the telegraph office of the War Department for Abraham Lincoln and he hand-delivered the message to Lincoln stating that he had been re-nominated to run in the 1864 election.

“It’s great for all of us and they (the French interns) get to see New York, the real New York,” said President of Green-wood Cemetery, Richard Moylan. “The interaction is just terrific; we get work done but that’s only a small part of it.”

Tanguy Firinga, a French volunteer, agreed, noting, “It has been interesting to work and we get to visit New York too.”

This is the volunteers’ second week in New York as part of the Preservation Volunteers. During the first week, they worked on preserving window shutters and have finished out their time in New York by digging out the sunken stones of Tinker’s family and cleaning the granite monument.

Luis Santamaria, a Williamsburg High School student who wants to pursue a career in architecture, said, “I chose this internship to help preserve the land and learn about the foundation.”

This week-long project is supervised by the Green-Wood Historic Fund, a not-for-profit organization, along with Preservation Volunteers, a partnership that has been in place for 12 years. Together, the two groups aim to preserve objects of historical, cultural and architectural value that otherwise would be forgotten by public.

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