The folks who cut, ship, and erect stone monuments are subject to the same human failings as the rest of us. I’ve recently seen two examples, each interesting in its own way.

In both cases someone (probably the contractor) tried to put things right.

First, the 1899 Lister monument in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, New York, an exurb of New York City.

Figure 1. Lister monument. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, New York. Photo: author.

This is one of the great American Gilded-Age funerary monuments, fabricated by the New England Granite Works out of stone quarried in Westerly, Rhode Island. Beaux-arts extravagance did not come cheaply. This monument cost 9250 1899 dollars, equivalent to something like 330,000 2022 dollars. Granite is a coarse, unforgiving medium, but here the cutting is fine and first-rate. Somewhere in the process of fabrication, transport, or erection of this monument, though, someone chipped a bit of the apophyge off of one of the columns: the front-right one, as we look at it.

Figure 2. Lister monument. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, N.Y. Photo: author.

The contractor could have insisted upon a new column, but recourse was had to cutting out the damaged portion of the stone and filling it with an equivalent, made-to-order piece. Hard to make out in my photo (figure 2) is the fact that the column has been erected in such a way that the damage—and, of course, repair— is turned inward and slightly toward the rear of the monument. It’s not visible from the front.This is an elegant way to handle this sort of problem, and you would find similar examples going back to at least Greek and Roman times.

Then there is the insanely glorious Falcione mausoleum in Riverside Cemetery in Norristown, Pennsylvania, an exurb of Philadelphia.

Figure 3. Falcione mausoleum. Riverside Cemetery, Norristown, PA. Photo: author.

I should not be surprised if Mrs. F. paid more than 330,000 2022 U.S. Dollars. The chaotic design, which reminds one of a McMansion (a McMausoleum! There: I just coined that. Feel free to use the term.), finds further expression in the treatment of a broken torus molding on the base of the leftmost front column.

Figure 4. Falcione mausoleum. Detail: repair of broken torus molding. Riverside Cemetery, Norristown, PA. Photo: author.

Here, the break has been left as it was found, with a chipped fragment epoxied back into place. The base might have been turned to make the chip face toward the cella wall or the rear of the building, but it was felt acceptable to leave the repaired break in the most prominent possible orientation. Who knows? Maybe a workman installing part of the porch backed a machine into the column base and broke it when it was already irrevocably in place. But even under such a charitable reading, the contractor might still have made the cut and inserted a manicured replacement. It goes to show that indicia of quality run from the most obvious elements (design and execution) right down to the smallest details, like the treatment of a small break.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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