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Group plans headstone project

Preservation society president Ron Johnson (left) stands with other members after restoring a headstone. The group placed original pieces on a cement slab to create a mosaic look.

The Madison Station Historical Preservation Society is holding a headstone restoration work bee Saturday, Oct. 16, to repair damaged headstones in Madison’s historic cemetery located on Mill Road.

The cemetery has headstone dating back to the 1800s, and preservation society President Ron Johnson said the repairing and cleaning of the gravestones preserves the integrity of the cemetery.

“The historic society is very anxious to get in there and continue the effort,” Johnson said. “A lot of broken and raw stones have popped out the grounds and tilting over, we’re anxious to reset the stones, make the repairs and spruce up the cemetery as best as possible.”

The society started repairing and preserving headstones in 2004, when the group met to discuss the look of the cemetery. He said he was adamant about preserving the old headstones.

The original pieces, whether they are broken or cracked, are placed inside a brand-new white-cemented monolith that gives the remodeled headstone a mosaic pattern as close to the original layout of the stone as possible. The old stones could be replaced with new ones, but the group thought that it was best to preserve the stones as best they could, Johnson said.

He said white portland cement is preferred over gray because it is more compatible with marble.

Damage to the original headstones has made it difficult to read the names and dates on the headstones, so the group puts new engraved brass plaques on the back to let readers know to whom they belong.

“These are tangible pieces of Madison history,” he said. “Our charter is to preserve history, and if we didn’t do this, they would just sink into the ground and be lost.”

The group meets a few times a year for the work bee Johnson said the society’s dues and fundraising efforts fund the effort.

“The project isn’t really expensive, just labor intensive,” he said.

During the restoration next week, Johnson said he also wants to straighten and clean the monoliths. He said plenty of work needs to be done, so anyone interested is encouraged to come out and lend a helping hand.

“This is definitely a community effort, to not only clean up, but restore headstones that would be lost forever,” Johnson said. “So we’re really excited about this.”

For information visit about the project or to volunteer, visit the preservation society’s website at www.historicmadisonstation.com.

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