Heritage Region Offers Cemetery Preservation Workshops

Brian Lione of Lione Heritage Consulting (at podium) addresses participants of the “Caring for Collections” workshops held in Susquehanna County in March 2022. In April, Lione will lead a new series of workshops on Cemetery Preservation.

The Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) will conduct a pair of day-long workshops on Cemetery Preservation in April. The sessions will be offered on Saturday, April 22 and Saturday, April 29 at the Susquehanna County Library, 458 High School Road in Montrose.

Headstones are tangible aspects of our past to honor those they commemorate and to provide us a place to reflect on those who have passed on,” said Brian Lione, owner of Lione Heritage Consulting, who will lead the workshops. “Preserving headstones ensures that we as descendants and loved ones have the continued connection to the stories they tell, understand how those who came before us contributed to the community, and how their lives are connected to our own.”

Lione will be assisted in the workshops by Hillori Schenker, Historic Preservation Club adviser at Montrose Jr./Sr. High School, and Bonnie Yuscavage, the new curator for the Susquehanna County Historical Society.

Each session will include learning opportunities on the history of cemeteries, research resources, and methods for documentation. Appropriate cleaning techniques will be the focus of the workshop, and instructors will demonstrate so participants can see techniques up close and ask questions about the approach. Each participant will receive an instructional workbook and a toolkit of supplies (worth over $50) to take home for their own use.

No matter how well maintained, over time weather, pollution, neglect, and other hazards start to erase that story from the stone. That’s why documentation is so important,” Lione explained, adding, “Documentation goes well beyond photographs of the headstones. It should include careful mapping of the whole cemetery and the location of each grave within it and locating and copying maps and records related to the site.”

The workshops are funded in part by a Susquehanna County Marcellus Legacy Fund Mini-Grant and are currently open only to Susquehanna County residents due to limited seating of 25 per class. Support has also been rendered by the Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association.

At first glance, headstones seem to tell only a very short story about the person buried there – their name, how long they lived, and sometimes their occupation. In reality, that short story is just a prompt to the beginning of a full life story of the person interred there,” Lione remarked. “Good documentation helps to identify what hazards threaten a grave, area, or whole cemetery, and provides a baseline of information needed to make and implement a plan to avoid, mitigate, or reverse those hazards.”

Participants are asked to arrive for registration between 9:30 and 10 am each day. Classes will run from 10 am to 2 pm. Coffee and tea will be available throughout the morning, and a light lunch will be served. The cost of attending the workshop is $10 per participant.

Brian has made a career out of preserving heritage sites and artifacts locally and across the globe,” said EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin. “He led our ‘Caring for Collection’ workshops in Susquehanna County last spring, which were very well-received. And we look forward to learning even more from Brian as to how to protect these valuable heritage resources.”

To register for the EMHR Cemetery Preservation Workshops, interested readers can log on to emheritage.org/events.

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