Kai Nalenz, president of Gravestone Services of New England, compares some of his recent restoration work in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Deerfield to photographs of their original state.
Recorder/Micky Bedell">Recorder/Micky Bedell">
Kai Nalenz, president of Gravestone Services of New England, stands by the only remaining untouched gravestone of about 100 he has restored for the Childs family in Deerfield's Laurel Hill Cemetery.
The preservation work was performed by expert gravestone restorer Kai Nalenz, owner of the New Hampshire-based company Gravestone Services of New England.
said the entire project took about three weeks and involved repairing and cleaning over 100 gravestones, most of which were made of either slate or marble.
has been professionally preserving gravestones for the past 10 years.
said that he
first became interested in working with stone through his
father-in-law, who is a stonecarver.
training through the Association for Gravestone Studies
and said he
has worked on tens of thousands of gravestones to date.
"I always had an interest, but that's how I got into it," he
said many of the cemetery's gravestones weigh close to 1,000 pounds, and many of them had either fallen over or sunken into the ground over the course of two centuries.
"It must have taken a lot of effort to bring them down here," he
Raising one of the stones, a 1,200-pound obelisk, required the use of a special 6,000 pound crane with a 30-foot boom.
Once the obelisk was upright and reset, Nalenz
had to use nearly a half ton of gravel and stone to stabilize it.
The marble stones required the use of crushed stone to stabilize their bases and provide adequate drainage, Nalenz
"If you let the stones stand in too much moisture, they'll get soft and begin to deteriorate.
Then, what's the point?
Those that weren't as badly damaged just needed to be cleaned up and polished to showcase their intricately carved lettering and artwork.
cleans up the artwork, he
stops short of attempting to recarve it.
"I don't do any recarving, because I think that's like painting over a master's painting," he
"It's just not meant to be done."
was particularly glad to have been able to work on the project due to the Harris's enthusiasm and dedication to their family history.