Green Hill Cemetery to remove, refurbish wrought iron fence

·2 min read
Stan Ritchison displays a section of the Green Hill Cemetery fence along 18th Street that is disconnected from the adjacent panel. Areas of separated fence, along with lichen growth, and leaning posts, are to be repaired. The work will start in February, with Ritchison doing some of the repair, and Mike Storms doing sandblasting and powder coating of the fence sections. The fence dates back to the mid-1850s. "Structurally, the fence is in pretty good shape," said Ritchison, who serves as vice president of the cemetery association. The association received a community grant that will pay for 30% of the work, and Ritchison hopes that members of the community can step up to "match" 70%.
Stan Ritchison displays a section of the Green Hill Cemetery fence along 18th Street that is disconnected from the adjacent panel. Areas of separated fence, along with lichen growth, and leaning posts, are to be repaired. The work will start in February, with Ritchison doing some of the repair, and Mike Storms doing sandblasting and powder coating of the fence sections. The fence dates back to the mid-1850s. "Structurally, the fence is in pretty good shape," said Ritchison, who serves as vice president of the cemetery association. The association received a community grant that will pay for 30% of the work, and Ritchison hopes that members of the community can step up to "match" 70%.

BEDFORD — Efforts to preserve the unique monuments in Green Hill Cemetery are continuous for the handful of volunteers who work to preserve the rich history of Bedford's oldest cemetery.

The fence that borders the north side of the cemetery is nearly as old as the cemetery itself and is showing its age. A "patina" of lichen growth covers the pickets and finials. Gaps have formed between some of the panels.

Soon, the cemetery's wrought iron fence will get some needed attention to ensure its place in the cemetery.

In the coming weeks, a large section of the fence on 18th Street will be removed and taken to a local business to be cleaned and powder coated.

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Stan Ritchison, vice president of the Green Hill Cemetery Association, said 350 feet of fence will be removed. Storms Powder Coat on 36th Street will cut off old bolts, sandblast the fence, straighten any bent points, apply a powder coat finish and then re-install the fence.

Fifty-five panels make up the repaired portion of the fence, which runs from the entrance to M Street. The posts will be left in place during the work.

Over time, the fence has shifted as nearby trees grew along the edge of the fence. Two big trees were cut down, but the stumps remain and have grown into the fence.

Ritchison said the wrought iron fence is about as old as the cemetery, which dates to 1850.

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"Wrought iron is a fairly stable material," Ritchison said. "It lasts forever and with this powder coating, no one alive today will ever have to paint that fence."

How long will it take?

Removal of the fence should begin by early February and take a month or more to finish. The association received a grant to pay a portion of the cost. Ritchison said the goal is to repair the east section of the fence later this year.

Making improvements to the cemetery is a gradual process. Ritchison said the cemetery receives a lot of requests to fix leaning monuments. The board purchased equipment to make it easier to reset monuments; this past fall, volunteers reset 12 monuments.

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In 2018, a columbarium was installed and the board adopted a master plan for other improvements such as landscaping and prepping a foundation for an additional columbarium.

"We continue to make improvements on the cemetery, but we're not where we need to be yet," Ritchison said. "We're proud of the improvements we've made, but there is much more to do."

Contact Times-Mail Staff Writer Carol Johnson at cjohnson@tmnews.com or 812-277-7252.

This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Bedford's Green Hill Cemetery to refurbish wrought iron fence

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