Monument Conservation: Beauty Restored – Rich Monument

March 15, 2012

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 Friends of Mount Auburn electronic newsletter.

Thanks to a wonderful connection and private funding, we were able to restore the beloved Rich Monument on Garden Avenue.  The monument’s marble statue depicting a kneeling woman looking to heaven has captured many hearts over the years.

Dating to 1864, the Rich monument is one of Mount Auburn’s more significant monuments. It is a copy of a famous statue titled “Trust in God”(1833 marble, height 93 cm.) by Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850 Italian). The original statue is in the collection of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, Italy.

Seth Rich, Jr. was a watch and diamond broker with offices at Brattle Square in Boston. He purchased this lot in May of 1864 in order to bury his daughter Olive L. Rich who died early, aged 32 years. The monument marks the center of a traditional 300 square foot family lot.

The Rich monument has weathered over the years and the marble surfaces had become “sugary.” The stone was dirty with biological growth such as lichen and algae growing on the surface.  Chief of Conservation David Gallagher and Curator of Historical Collections Meg L. Winslow met with the consulting Conservator Barbara Mangum and decided on the following treatment:

The monument was cleaned, cracks were filled and conservation chemicals were applied to help with long term stability of the marble.  Before cleaning, loose materials were consolidated with conservation chemicals. Then the stone was washed with filtered water and a solution to inhibit biological growth.  Cracks, small losses in the sculpture, and joints between the marble sculpture and the base were filled with mortar.  Small areas of missing elements, such as the thumb of the proper right hand, the area of the proper left ear, sections of the lip and nose were recreated.

View photos of the monument’s conditions before, during and after the conservation. 

Now this graceful statue, washed and restored, will continue to capture our hearts and imagination.

Who was the young Olive Rich we wonder? Did she look anything like her beautiful monument?

For further information about this recent project, or monument conservation at Mount Auburn, please contact Curator of Historical Collections Meg L. Winslow at:  or Chief of Conservation David Gallagher at:


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