Last Sunday I happened to be in downtown Boston to see a theater production at Emerson College. I had time to wander into the old Granary Burying Ground, next to the Park Street Church which sits right on Boston Common at the top of Tremont Street. It was a glorious, warm sunny day, the day after St. Patrick's Day, and the Common, and the Burial Ground, was alive with wandering sightseers.
The Granary is very popular, on the Freedom Trail, and has some of the oldest stones I have seen, yet. The oldest: "Neal" dates back to mid 1600's. Right next to this stone, is that of "Mother Goose," or Mary Goose, wife of Isaac Goose. She died in 1690 and is purportedly the "Mother Goose" of nursery rhyme fame.
|Mother Goose gravestone; Granary Burial Ground; Boston|
As a native Bostonian, I have visited Boston's historic graveyards time and again, but this time with more awareness about how anything dating back to mid-1600's can survive, time, acid rain, pollution, curious hands, fungus, etc. Who is in charge, I wondered? Here is a link to how Boston cares for their historic burial grounds.
And here are some organizations that are dedicated to sharing and teaching others about the techniques and importance of gravestone preservation. It's more than historic interest, but a knowledge of scientific methods, that is required to correctly care for monuments. However, there are good, basic things for the "cemetery wanderer" to know regarding touching, cleaning, photography techniques to enhance inscriptions (much preferred to any kind of cleaning, folks !!) and more.
Jonathan Appell, Monuments Conservator
Gravestone Preservation Info: techniques in restoring gravestones