Mark Davis and his crew methodically and meticulously are restoring old grave stones in the Cloverdale Cemetery. Reduced to blackened and weathered surfaces -- some even broken -- Davis' work returns old monument stones to the appearance of their time period.
Mark Davis is a restorer. His company, Stone Saver Cemetery Restoration of Hartford City, works in restoration efforts across the United States. One of only 30 in the nation to do this kind of restoration, Davis approaches his work with pride, humility and tremendous respect.
Recently hired by the Cloverdale Cemetery Association to restore old grave stone monuments, Mark, along with fellow restorer, Helen Wildermuth, Stonehugger Cemetery Restoration of Nashville, Ind. have worked on more than 80 stones in the cemetery.
Starting a project, Davis will look over the stones to determine which have the most need. He then photographs the monuments as part of the documentation. The stone bases are reset, stones are cleaned and the second photo is taken when done, noting the change. A compilation of the work of the restoration is put into a book and then presented to the client.
With seven years experience, Davis states most of the old head stones he restores are Italian marble but notes there are many limestone and granite stones as well. The mortar he uses in the process is close to what was used in the time period.
"It's rewarding work," he says, pointing out a stone with two small lambs on top. The small monument notes the death of two infant twin girls whose deaths are recorded as months apart.
Helen Wildermuth points out a restored military stone nearby adding neither her or Mark seldom charge for restoring such.
"We restore them and will place a new flag beside them," she said.
While not all stones in the old section were addressed in this project, the Cloverdale Cemetery Association hopes to have the others restored in the near future. The success of this first effort has been very rewarding to the Cemetery Association and the restorers.
"We'll move on," says Davis -- as well he does, returning the honor and acknowledgement of lives lived many years ago.