Anyone driving on Greenbush Road past Barber Cemetery (West Burial Ground) on Sunday morning, Aug. 27, probably noticed some activity. A sign announced that the Vermont Old Cemetery Association was at work again. VOCA, a nonprofit devoted to the restoration and preservation of neglected and abandoned cemeteries in the State of Vermont, sponsored a second gravestone-restoration working session at Barber Cemetery.

Susan Ohanian | Cemetery Commission

Again, the primary objective was straightening leaning gravestones, which means carefully excavating the area around each stone and “replanting” it. Anyone seeing the crew at work would have noticed lots of people carrying levels, as part of the task is making sure the stone is level in all directions.

Pete Demick of Vermont Walkways and Stone Preservation and VOCA life member and James Laberge, trained stone mason, focused on epoxy repair of broken gravestones as well as helping everybody else with tips on straightening stones. We are very fortunate to have these Charlotte experts willing to give their time and expertise to train volunteers as well as do a lot of work themselves.

The Charlotte Cemetery Commission is grateful for the people who gave up their Sunday morning to travel to our cemetery for this worthy project: Allison Curran, Burlington Cemetery Commission chair; Emma Swift, BCC commissioner; Barry Trutor, VOCA webmaster and membership chair; and Jeni Newman, VOCA secretary. Charlotters Chris Falk and Susan Ohanian, cemetery commissioners, and Dianne Leary, VOCA VP and grants administrator and life member, organized the event.

This crew worked on improving the condition of 21 gravestones.

Parking was generously provided by the Old Lantern.

Barber Cemetery has been in use since 1785, and just reading the names on the stones provides a fascinating glimpse into our history. If anyone is interested in helping with cleaning the gravestones, contact Susan Ohanian. A dozen or so have been cleaned, leaving about 800 to go.