Green-Wood Vandalized–And Restored

It has been less than a week since about 50 gravestones at Green-Wood were vandalized.

I was out on the grounds Friday morning. The damage is even more aggravating when examined closely. For instance, I knew that an small angel had had its head snapped off after being pushed off its base and crashing to the ground. But, on closer examination, I discovered that that angel was a memorial to Dwight Talmage Abbey, a five-year-old boy who died in 1904. His parents put this monument up as a memorial to their little angel. And now it lies smashed in pieces.

Here is the granite base that supported a small marble carving of an angel. That angel memorialized little Dwight, who died at the age of five. Imagine how his parents, Frank and Francis, would feel if they knew about this vandalism.The angel, memorializing little Dwight, had its head snapped off and both of its wings broken when it crashed to the ground. Note the epitaph: "A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM." The base of the fallen angel is at right.

Another monument that was vandalized also struck home with me. It is the monument to Horace Hart, a Civil War veteran. I discovered Horace’s story several years ago; you can find that blog post from 2009 here. Horace served in the 43rd New York Infantry. As a teenager, he fought at Gettysburg, exchanging fire on July 3, 1863 with Confederates. His company was commanded by Captain William Gilfillan, who was killed there that day. When I came out to take a photograph of Captain Gilfillan’s grave for the man I had met who owns the land upon which Gilfillan was shot and died, I spotted Horace Hart’s nearby grave and a symbol on it indicating that he was a Civil War veteran. Researching Horace, I discovered that he had wanted to be interred just feet away from his captain who led him into battle. The vandals knocked the top of his granite monument off–the part that proudly bears his Grand Army of the Republic ribbon–a statement of his loyal service to his country.

When the granite cube atop Horace Hart's monument, bearing his carved G.A.R. ribbon, was knocked to the ground, it must have landed with tremendous force. Granite is a very hard rock; the chips on the right front corner and on the top could only have been caused by quite a blow.

The vandal or vandals seem to have targeted crosses. So, this cross, and another right next to it, were smashed into pieces.

This repair will require time and skill to get these pieces back together.

And this cross, though toppled and now replaced in position, largely intact, suffered some scratches and a large chip at its upper right.

That is a large chip, at front right, suffered by this marble cross.

And the inscription on this cross seems not to have deterred the vandal or vandals:

This cross, inscribed "Rest, Spirit, Rest," was toppled for the vandals' entertainment.

But, there is some good news out of all this. Many of the monuments that were toppled, but remained largely intact, suffering some chipping or little damage, have been put back in their places by Green-Wood’s dedicated restoration workers. When I was out on the grounds Friday morning, I saw a Green-Wood restoration crew at work, epoxying a shrouded urn back in place. They then moved on to another monument that the vandal or vandals had attacked. The restoration crew carefully glued the pieces of that monument back in place.

Of course, there are quite a few monuments that still lie in pieces, and will require more extensive work. Fortunately, Green-Wood has a cutting-edge restoration program in place that will be able to do this work.

Green-Wood restorers repairing one of the damaged monuments on Friday morning.

So, it is just a matter of time, and skill, and money, until these monuments are repaired and placed back out as memorials to those who lie below them in Green-Wood’s ground.

Great thanks to everyone who has sent us words of sympathy and encouragement. And thanks to all of you who have made donations to help pay for these repairs. If you would like to support our efforts to restore all of these damaged memorials, please click here. We very much appreciate your support.

3 thoughts on “Green-Wood Vandalized–And Restored”

  1. Horrible news and terribly disturbing. Green-Wood is a gem in Brooklyn and belongs to the ages. One can only hope that the culprits are located and properly punished. We have spent many enjoyable hours in Green-Wood and look forward to its restoration.

  2. Is there any way, in addition to donations, that people in the community can help to repair the damage or assist with the clean-up? We live in the neighborhood and spend lots of time in Greenwood… we would love to show support any way we can. Thanks for your hard work restoring this cherished treasure!

    • Thanks, Lauren. If is very nice of you to offer to help. But I think we’ll leave it to our staff, and our trained restorers, to do the work.


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