German company restores Green-Wood monuments free of charge

Green-Wood Cemetery is undergoing a major restoration and cleaning project, courtesy of German cultural restoration expert Thorsten Moewes.

Moewes, of  Kärcher, a German based company specializing in cleaning equipment, has been the project manager of the cultural sponsorship program for 16 years, which has supported the cleaning and restoration of more than 100 monuments and buildings around the world such as the Space Needle in Seattle, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro, and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

The cleaning concept, developed alongside Green-Wood’s Manager of Preservation and Restoration, Neela Wickremeinghe, is part of an ongoing long time partnership between Kärcher and the cemetery.

Moewes uses a special machine to clean the monuments in order to minimize the risk of damage.

“The stone is sensitive due to age, and the dirt is biological growth – moss, algaes and lichens. The best method to remove them is steam cleaning. We only use pure water, no chemicals. The steam can kill those cells and preserve the stone longer,” Moewes said.

This initial project removed centuries of dirt and grime from three Green-Wood landmarks, completely free of charge. These monuments included the Niblo Mausoleum (1851), the Miller Mausoleum (c. 1870) and the Charlotte Canda Memorial (1845).

Following the cleaning, Kärcher donated one of their hot water pressure washers to the cemetery.

Richard Moylan, president of Green-Wood, is optimistic that the project will preserve the past for the future of the cemetery.

“We are really not responsible for the preservation of private family plots, but this goes toward the beautification of Green-Wood. There is nothing better than on the weekend seeing people visit and look at the monuments, not even necessarily visiting their own plot, but just looking around and enjoying,” said Moylan.

Moylan also praised the work of Moewes and Kärcher in doing their part to help “ensure that future generations can also enjoy their [the monuments’] magnificence.”

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