Category: Preservation

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and Photogrammetry at Mount Auburn

November 23, 2015

One of the most thrilling moments for anyone working with historic monuments is the moment of discovery. The moment when a partially illegible inscription can be deciphered, a maker’s signature found, or a forgotten detail rediscovered.

At Mount Auburn, thousands of marble monuments are slowly disintegrating in some way, having suffered from over a century of exposure to the harsh New England climate. The surfaces have been etched by acid precipitation and have eroded, resulting in a loss of once finely carved surface detail. The inscriptions and symbolism, telling relics of the people buried and commemorated here, are in danger of being lost forever. Mount Auburn’s Monument Inscription Project has worked to address these losses since 1993 by training staff and volunteers to document the details and inscriptions on our 19th century monuments. However, although much can be deciphered using mirrors and other special techniques, there is a limit to what we can see with the naked eye. (more…)

Conservation in Action: Saving the Monument to Thatcher Magoun

October 25, 2015

2015_Fall_Magoun (7)

Mount Auburn is delighted to announce the recent conservation of the much-loved monument to Thatcher Magoun (1775-1856) on Fir Avenue. Described in nineteenth-century guidebooks as “One of the most beautiful in the grounds,” the tender memorial depicts a female figure protectively embracing a young girl. Also referred to as “Grief,” the monument is a copy of a bas-relief carved by Irish-born sculptor John Henry Foley that was published in The Art Journal of 1850. The Art Journal observed “how closely and tenderly are the two entwined together, each finding comfort in the other; yet both sorrowing over the link that is broken.”  The inscription “R. Barry, Boston” on the base references Richard Barry (c. 1818-1874), a Boston marble worker, who carved the memorial’s large pedestal. (more…)

Shaw Monument, conserved 2012

Shaw Monument, conserved 2012
August 12, 2013

The Shaw family Monument is one of Mount Auburn’s most significant and celebrated memorials. Robert Gould Shaw, a Boston merchant, China trader, and philanthropist commissioned architect and designer Hammatt Billings to design a monument carved by local stone carver Alpheus Cary on the family lot at Mount Auburn which was erected in 1848. As was typical during the nineteenth century, the lot is the final burial place for many members of the Shaw family and includes nine individual markers and an underground tomb. At the base of the front of the Monument is the bronze plaque that commemorates Shaw’s grandson, Col. Robert Gould Shaw.  (more…)

Mount Auburn’s Civil War Heroes: Preserving Memory in Stone

March 18, 2013


With a $5,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Sesquicentennial Commission of the American Civil War, and additional support from Harold I. Pratt, the Mildred Cambridge Memorial Fund, The Ruth & Henry Walter Fund, and other generous supporters, Mount Auburn has recently finished conservation of five Civil War monuments and landscape enhancements to a sixth.