Jul 14 2018

Update #1: Seven Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Members Help to Preserve a Town Landmark

Seven members of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society helped to clean and restore the historic Monfort Cemetery in Port Washington last Saturday. Joining 25 other preservationists from Queens to Shelter Island, the group cleaned, repaired, restored and helped to preserve monuments of Long Island history.

Kudos to Al Velocci, Ellyn Okvist, John Cuocco, Greg O., Dee O., and Tom Padilla and the entire workshop group for joining me for a wonderful day in a Town of North Hempstead landmark.

Phyllis Sternemann, historian for Christ Church Manhasset and a producer for PATV, has created this inspiring YouTube video of the workshop:

The video captures the restoration of the monument of Andrew Hegeman (1811-1885). The monument was reattached to its marble base which was buried one-foot underground. The restoration process took over one hour. It is now the tallest monument in the cemetery.


Reporter Luke Torrance has posted an article on the workshop in today's Port Washington Times.


Howard Kroplick

Port Washington Times

Cleaning up Port’s oldest cemetery

By Luke Torrance - July 10, 2018

The Monfort cemetery has sat at its current location — adjacent to Paul D. Schreiber High School — since long before there was a Port school district, or even a Port Washington. Some gravestones in the cemetery have been there since the 1700s, and they look like it: many have splotches of moss while some have toppled over.

The Town of North Hempstead has approved an effort to restore this piece of local history, and on Saturday a group of volunteers began by cleaning the stone.

“This is really just a start of the restoration process,” said Town Historian Howard Kroplick. “Eventually we hope to restore all of the headstones here, to repair the ones that have fallen on the ground, this is our initial phase.”

He said that part of the purpose of the cleaning was to draw attention to the cemetery, which would help with raising funds for the more difficult and time-consuming parts of the process.

The gravestones were cleaned first with a chemical called D2, which contains a quaternary ammonium solution and is used to prevent organisms from growing on the stone.

The group of volunteers was led by Johnathan Appell, a gravestone conservator and head of Atlas Preservation, who has traveled around the country to lead workshops like this.

“For these things… you don’t want to use household chemicals… metal brushes or power washers or bleach,” he said.

Instead, the volunteers used small brushes to gently clear the growth from the gravestone.

Appell said the most damaging thing to the headstones is water, and that those in the shade were more likely to be damaged, as water would not evaporate as quickly and would instead seep into the stone.

He said the D2 would need to be reapplied every few years, although the headstones in the shade would need to be cleaned more frequently.

Saturday’s event was the first time Appell, a Connecticut native, had come to Port Washington. He had previously down work on Shelter Island and in Southampton.

“He’s one of the world’s experts on the conservation of headstones and monuments,” Kroplick said.

A group of more than 20 volunteers was carefully cleaning the stones.

Some came from Port Washington while others came from further away to help out. Phyllis Chan Carr, the public relations director for the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society, came all the way from West Islip to pitch in.

“This is my first time, and I wanted to learn,” she said. “The manor has a family cemetery, so we’d like to learn how to preserve what’s left.”

Kroplick and the town covered the cost of the cleaning, which totaled about $1,900.

“It’s important to remember our history and honor our history,” he said. ” In this cemetery alone, we have four [Revolutionary War soldiers]… we honor them by preserving their final resting place.”

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

The workshop was inspired by the installation of a Pomeroy Foundation historic marker at the Monfort Cemetery in May. Members of the Monfort family are seen here celebrating with Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio. Photo by Luke Torrance.

The Town's press release providing background on the workshop.

The workshop began with a presentation on the historic Monfort Cemetery by the town historian.

The workshop was led by Jonathan Appell, a leader in the field of monument conservation. Ellyn Okvist is second from the right.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth particpated in the workshop and posed with relatives of early Long Island settlers. From left to right: Pam Monfort, Seth Smith, Judi Bosworth, Howard Kroplick, Vera Allen and Nancy Allen.

My favorite co-author Al Velocci (second from right) learning the art of gravestone restoration from Jonathan Appell

Dee applying D/2 Biological Solution to a headstone

Greg and Dee checking out their work.

Dee assisting Jonathan and Scott Kaier uncover a marble base for the monument to her right. Scott did an amazing job doing the heavy lifting.

Tom Padilla helping to repair the monument now sitting on its original base.

Headstone Before and After

Amazing how D/2 and water can clean up headstones.

Martin Schenck was one of four war patriots buried in the Monfort Cemetery. They signed a 1775 Declaration of Independence from the loyalist Town of Hempstead, nine months before the national Declaration of Independence.


Jul 11 2018 Brian D McCarthy 8:18 PM

Glad that many came to help and learn. I recall quite a few headstones in the Brentwood Cemetery that need some TLC. Have to find out if there’s a cleaning program in my neck of the woods. Very neat, thanks for posting Howard.
Howard Kroplick

Brian, Joe Tracy’s grave site is in the Brentwood Cemetery.


Jul 14 2018 Howard Kroplick 10:59 PM

Ross Lumpkin:

More Than a Cleanup!

Referring to the gathering at Monfort Cemetery as “cleaning up Port’s oldest cemetery” in last week’s edition is only partially true.  It was much more than that. 

Town Historian Howard Kroplick organized a workshop to teach cleaning techniques for gravestones and to demonstrate more difficult restoration processes that with additional training or under the supervision of a professional would enable any of us to go to the next level.  So not only did we begin cleaning up Monfort Cemetery, but the 30 or so people in attendance can apply what was learned in communities all over Long Island.

For all of us, it was eye-opening to see clear text emerge from the gravestones as we cleaned.  I had come expecting to learn a thing or two, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect that cleaning a gravestone would be fun.

A special thanks is due to Howard Kroplick and Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth for making this day possible.
Ross Lumpkin, Trustee
Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society

Jul 18 2018 Victor J. D'Angelo 1:50 PM

I had family in from out of town and had to miss the event. Looks like it was a great educational day. With only 4 or 5 years before I retire, I’m looking to get more involved in volunteering in historical preservation activities. Please pass along any similar events or any other historical preservation organizations in Nassau county in need of a volunteer.

Howard Kroplick

Victor, thanks you are now a proud member of the Long Island Motor Parkway preservation Society which entitles you to all the preservation efforts. Welcome!!

Jul 25 2018 Tom 11:33 AM

Nice to see such a group effort, excellent work all !

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