TEL:  Stu -207-319-6659 or  Sue - 207-949-7770


SERVICES: Cleaning - Lift, Level, Repair & Reset - Restorations




                                                            CARING FOR YOUR LOCAL CEMETERIES…    

                                                                            Where do we start?

The following is our recommendations based upon our experience in Maine for the past eight years.

1.     Boundaries. Do you know where all the boundary lines of the cemetery are? If not your first step can be to have it surveyed? Or if that is not an option or not needed, reconstruct the existing lines searching for old fences, rock walls or rails and monuments or tree lines.  Once you are sure you on the proper lines then move on to the next step.

2.     Check out your trees, tree lines and shrubs.  Are there branches hanging over stones.  Get them trimmed, removed or remove the tree if it is in decaying condition.  The reason we suggest you work on your trees first is that it can be fruitless to spend money cleaning, leveling and straightening the headstones and monuments if a storm is going to bring branches down upon work you have already paid for.  An Arborist or professional tree removal service  “who has experience” in removing branches or trees within cemeteries. We have seen on numerous occasions where local well meaning tree removal has done thousands of dollars in damage to surrounding stones in an attempt to remove a tree or dead branches.

Next step can be

3.     Clean the stones in a no harm manner. Visit the Cemetery Conservators for United Standards website for the proper cleaning techniques and products that are acceptable.  This can be as simple as spraying a wet stone with D/2 and leaving mother nature to help clean off the moss, lichens, mold and mildew (this only takes a couple months and is very little work other than spraying each stone).  This is by far the easiest way to be able to read the stones for the next step.

4.     Document and map your cemetery.  Prepare a handwritten map of your cemetery.  Note boundaries, trees, shrubs, family plots, roads and walkways. Designate sections and rows if that is not already done. Each and every stone should be documented, photograph and make note of all headstones and monuments as they sit on your map.  Make note of any stones that need work: cleaned Leveled Straightened, down on the ground or put back together? The form is whatever works for you and your cemetery, but at a minimum, photograph and write down what is on the stone.

You can choose to do 3. or 4. in either order, the important thing is to do no harm to the stone.  Do not use shaving cream to read stones better; instead shine a flashlight across the front of the stone to assist you in determining the text. Another alternative is using a mirror shining on the front of the stone, catching the light just right will help also. 

5.     Cleaning: Do not use bleach or household cleaning detergents on headstones. Yes D/2 is costly, but it goes a long way if you apply it properly. If you bought your stone cleaning product in a grocery store, hardware store or big box store it is not something to use on a headstone.  These products have not been properly vetted and it is unknown what and how much damage it can do to the stone long-term. It may look fine when you are done but you have no idea what kind of damage you may have done.  D/2 is around $55 per gallon from Atlas Preservation. NO bleach!!!

6.     Begin your restoration process.  Unless your town, community or organization has a lot of money this should be done properly over a period of time.  If you can get $5000 set aside each year you can accomplish so much with that amount of money, and not unduly burden the taxpayers.

The stones on the ground are not your first priority.  Your first priority is those that are leaning severely or are a danger to the public due to instability.  Once you have the dangerous stones and severe leaners taken care of, and then move on to those that need to be reset and restored.  Now what about those stones that are on the ground?  It will surprise you how much can be done for those stones that need restoration or repair.  However there are stones, especially those that have lain on the ground for years, to become crumbly or sugary.  In many instances when a stone is in that condition it may well beyond repair and there are other options from there. 

a.)     You can purchase a replacement stone locally or online, even if it is a simple flush marker put in its place with the historical data.  You can get a marble or granite slab ($50-$300) and epoxy it to a cement paver which is larger than the new marker and put it in it’s place.  This preserves the historical information and marks the place of burial.


b.)     You could also prepare a 4x4 “cradle”, lined with fabric, and topped with crushed rock inside the cradle”. This gets the remaining stone up and out of the direct contact with moisture.  This cradle then becomes the final resting place, cost about $300-400.


The proper tools and the correct knowledge will make your job easier and do no harm to the stones.  Get yourself trained so you will have the correct knowledge or hire professionals that know correct methods. 


                                If you do hire someone to do your cleaning, resetting and restoration, ask them:

     Do you use D/2? 

     Do you have insurance? (This is a requirement for municipalities)

 If they say no to either of those questions…keep looking for properly trained conservators.


                            Or iIf they answer yes to any of these questions:

     Do you use cement for resetting, leveling or repairs?

     Do you use a pressure washer?

     Do you any sort of acid or acidic wash to clean stones?

     Do you use bleach?


  Keep looking if they answer yes.


There are those that are properly trained and know better.


Feel free to call us with questions about what is proper and what is not or where you should go with your cemetery restoration project.

We thank you for caring about your historic cemeteries and appreciate the fact that you care about doing it properly.


Maine Gravesite Maintenance, LLC

Sue Dunham

Stu Kallgren

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