GEORGETOWN’S HISTORIC AFRICAN 

AMERICAN CEMETERIES

MOUNT ZION

FEMALE UNION BAND SOCIETY

HISTORIC MEMORIAL PARK, INC.

a vision for our future 

We have an unprecedented opportunity to rediscover nearly two centuries of lost African American history in Georgetown and to develop a historic memorial park as a sacred space for quiet reflection and respectful commemoration of the past.

A place to promote unity, appreciation, and most of all to EDUCATE: to remember and preserve the heritage, contributions, and sacrifices these founders of Georgetown made during their lifetimes; and provide insight to their families and the community in which they lived during a time of deep segregation. 

"48 States (And A District!) in 48 Days" Historic Cemeteries Gravestone and Memorials Preservation, Restoration, and Repair Workshop

On October 6th the Mt. Zion - Female Union Band Society Historic Cemeteries Memorial Park hosted Jon Appel and representatives from four Washington, DC area historic cemeteries to a Workshop on "How to restore and perform different types of repairs for the most common problems associated with gravestones, monuments, and stonework".

 

The Workshop was part of our commitment to Preserve, Restore, and Protect our cemeteries as a sacred place for quiet reflection, education, and respectful commemoration of the past.

To access a full portfolio of photos of the Workshop and the wonderful team restoration and repair work, please click here.

Workshop overview

The "48 States (and a District!) in 48 Days" workshop teaching how to clean, repair, and reset gravestones and monuments was organized and led by Jon Appel, representing Atlas Preservation, Inc.. For the past 20 years, Jon has collaborated with numerous people and sponsor organizations to teach restoration to all who are interested in joining the movement to restore America's burying grounds.

 

A beautiful falcon perched on a gravestone greeted the first arrivals to the Workshop. Lisa Fager, Mt. Zion - Female Union Band Society Cemeteries Foundation Executive Director, welcomed our facilitator Jon Appel and twenty participants and then shared the history of the cemeteries, their rescue from abandonment and near demise at the hands of real estate developers. She also related how the cemeteries and the lives of the interred reflected the history of the black community of earliest Georgetown to the present. 

 

Jon Appel, having surveyed the cemetery, shared the impression that the rescued cemeteries presented a confusing array of gravestones, and monument collections dislocated from their gravesites.  A spirited discussion about the challenges faced by historic cemeteries not having perpetual care resources, the effects of dissolution of their original supporting communities, and land development threats ensued.  Jon suggested the Cemeteries consider ground-penetrating surveys of select areas of presently cleared areas of the Cemeteries where burial records exist, to determine if buried mounting stones or gravestone artifacts could be detected - and if so, to return associated headstones residing in collections near the Old Methodist Burial Ground to their proper locations.

The discussion then turned to 'best practices' for preserving upright and prone gravestones and monuments, kick-starting Workshop activities for the day.

The day-long Workshop included:

  • A 'walk and talk' tour, visually surveying some of the cemeteries' historic gravestones and monuments needing restoration and repair

  • Discussion of representative cemetery gravestones, memorials, masonry materials, stonework styles, assembly, and engraving over time

  • Gravestone and memorial cleaning discussions and demonstrations (the safe and effective removal of biological activity and lime/calcium staining; and destructive cleaning techniques to avoid)

  • Historic pointing mortars and portland cement - formulations, applications, curing, and downsides

Hands-On!

  • After the cleaning demonstration Workshop participants adopted numerous gravestones/memorials and performed restorative cleaning using D2/Biologix cleaner

  • The group collaborated in raising, leveling, and orienting two massive leaning gravestones

  • Learned how to reset and join elements of several multiple-piece monuments using lead corners, epoxy putty, and monument setting compound 

  • Witnessed how to Join a broken finial to its monument using color corrected epoxy adhesives and marble dust

  • Gained knowledge about the appropriate tools and materials to use for given restoration and repairs needs, and the suppliers of the best quality and domestically produced items.

The Workshop participants not only gained valuable practical knowledge of techniques, tools, and supplies they can employ to restore their cemeteries, they developed new relationships and expressed a desire to gather again at the other historic cemeteries represented and provide restoration assistance.

Thank you again to Jon Appel for a wonderful day - our cemetery being the second to the last on his Tour.

If you have not already, please watch this video featuring our guest instructor helping restore the Jamestown “Knight’s Tomb”  and the follow-on video of the Placement of the Knight’s Gravestone in the Jamestown Chapel.  They convey the respect the historic cemetery preservation field has for Jon’s knowledge, and his willingness to share it with individuals working to save historic cemeteries.

The Tour, training workshops, and supplies were made possible by these sponsors: Atlas Preservation, D/2 Biological Solution, Graffiti Solutions, Magnolia Brush, ZippKool Gear, Smith Sprayers, and Wolverine Tools.

Installation of the National Registry of Historic Places Designation Sign in the Mt. Zion - Female Union Band Society Cemeteries

The Foundation is seeking to place our NRHP designation plaque in the entrance area of the Female Union Band Society Cemetery private property.  The addition of the plaque:

  • Conveys to the public the NRHP recognition given to the Mt. Zion-Female Union Band Cemeteries

  • Informs visitors that the “park-like” and wooded grounds before them are in fact a sacred historic burial ground for more than 2,000 individuals

  • Provides visitors information about the history of the cemeteries, the lives, and contributions made by the interred to the establishment of Georgetown and to the transition of the United States to a post-slavery era

  • The NRHP Sign supports the Mt Zion - Female Union Band Society Cemeteries Foundation's goal of the burial grounds being a living historic memorial

Click here for more information about the installation of the plaque / sign stand

HELP US SAVE GEORGETOWN'S

AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CEMETERIES

PRESERVE
RESTORE
EDUCATE
PROTECT