This lecture is part of the 2009 Nationwide Cemetery Preservation Summit
Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr. Crypt, Old Burying Ground, Durham, Connecticut by Francis Miller
Hello everyone. Durham Connecticut is a pretty rural community in Connecticut, it’s almost mid-state and not too far way from Middletown and by that approximately pretty close to Portland, Connecticut where so much of the brownstone came from for our country. At the time of this cemetery most of the sandstone that was quarried was probably done locally, it’s a little oranger in color than that down in Portland, a little grainier. This cemetery’s comprised mostly of Connecticut Valley sandstone and marble. There some other interesting variables there. These are actually the ancestors of Elias … Actually it’s Steven Austin and Moses Austin who founded… well actually where the first Anglos into Texas; and it’s Austin, Texas. The Smithsonian tried to acquire those 2 headstones and the town denied them that and they’re just decomposing as we speak. We have some really interesting carvings also, this is a wonderful headstone for a captain and a Native American girl on this site.
It’s the Native American headstone I’ve seen at the cemetery. I did a couple quick tests with BioWash on some markers there. Bob Atwell who organized this campaign that you’ll see shortly with the Chauncey crypt. We picked out 2 stones to treat as a test. One marble with sandstone. We simply sprayed BioWash on it, had it dwell for 5 minutes, rinsed it off with water. That was done in 2005 and then we both came back in 2007. This was taken in 2009 and photographed in the spring. It became very clean, cleaner than I ever would have anticipated. In fact I fear that Bob may be sneaking up there and actually scrubbing it at night because he attempts to take on his own treatments when people aren’t looking so as we’ll see in just a second. Particularly the sandstone came surprising clean. This is Bob Atwell’s ancestor and he periodically, he says about every 5 years, sprays on Thompson’s Water Seal and I had to hold my tongue because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this stone so I couldn’t tell him not to continue that treatment, it’s in pristine condition.
This is the actual crypt itself. Reverend Adam is Daniel Chauncey, Jr. was born in 1681 in Hatfield, Massachusetts. He’s basically the son of Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Sr. and grandson of Charles Chauncey who was the second president of Harvard College. His father moved to Bridgeport where he was a reverend and then he actually was the first student of the collegiate school in Connecticut which later became Yale College, would move to New Haven; so a very powerful family. He moved to Durham in 1706 where he was the Reverend and held that post until 1756 when he died. We don’t exactly the date this was made. His wife is also buried on site in her… so a little bit of inscription left memorializing her. It is a Connecticut Valley sandstone and it has all the typical problems seen with that stone. A terrible biological growth swelling from the clay bodies causing the severe loss of the surface material, lots of previous repairs to the stone, and actually missing sections. There’s one corner block here that’s missing. Ones dislodged and it’s leaning against the piece itself.
You could see a lot of severe loss down in the lower portions of this stone. Most of the degradation was down toward the base up about a foot and a half to 2 feet in height. We tried to put a bore scope inside the crypt just to see what was inside but there was too much debris to actually see anything and fairly unstable in the condition we found it. There was a lot of old Portland cement treatments on some were remaining. Others there was just fragments left, like there’s a huge Portland cement piece here that had been removed and the mortar was extremely hard causing additional damage to the stone underneath. The first step in the treatment was actually just to try and give it the BioWash. This was done early in the spring, trying to get rid of the biogrowth. With BioWash we treated it. We had a very early spring, we had some first warm days and then it was just allowed to sit for at least a month before we came back. I think even longer than that. It helped actually loosen a lot of the growth.
A lot of it died in that period and the remaining growth, a lot of it was loose and would come off very easily for cleaning, but a lot remained as well. Here’s a close up of the different growths that you saw that were on the surface; it was quite a variety. We came back and then we actually did some light scrubbing with additional BioWash and then remaining spots were cleaned with a soap of 7-6-6 that just dissolved any remaining growth at all and we put on some After Wash. It was all thoroughly rinsed; we did use a pressure washer at about 2,500 psi. The surface of the stone itself was actually … There were some regions where it was a little friary but all the text was already lost in those areas. The surface itself wasn’t very shivery’ it was actually fairly stable. Pressure-washing it, the distance we use on these, a 40 degree fantip. It was actually more of a blowing action and did very little damage to the stone.
Granted, I’m sure that there were grains lost but it was so minimal that I wasn’t very fearful of any additional damage by doing that. I know that we did get good penetration by the cosolvents. I was speaking to Irving earlier about the penetration cosolvents through the biogrowth and he thinks that it would have fine without that aggressive of a treatment. He took the top off to have a look and then we actually set up a big scaffold. We had a 20 foot aluminum ID that we configured in the site. We were very restricted by the room we had with surrounding markers and some flat grave table … Not table tops, but very large flat stone markers in the ground in front of the crypt and so we had to configure the scaffold system very carefully to avoid any damage. We needed the room to disassemble the object by lifting, or hoisting, the objects out of the way so we could get to and remove the other components. When we took off the top you could see that the interior was completely filled.
The top material here is actually a very hard gray Portland mix. It’s not pure cement, there’s a little sand in it but a very hard. Hence, probably, one of the reasons why there’s so much damage on this stone. Not that brownstone doesn’t have its own problems without this aggravation. I think it was just holding so much moisture that it was wicking up and had nowhere to go but the faces of this crypt and so we actually disassembled the whole object. Originally, this is composed of a top table piece. It has a bottom base to it that actually ended up being one giant slab that was broken at the time and partially buried so we actually couldn’t see it very well when we started the treatment, and it has 4 side panels. They had a text on each side here over on this side. The 4 side panels are held in by these corner posts. The corner posts are designed with mortise and tenon joint which was really fascination. Then at the top it must have had some sort of iron clamps or pins that bridged those two to keep the top panels in place.
Now I was thinking about the construction so they probably had to have some rubble in the piece initially so that the thing wouldn’t collapse inward, particularly at the base. It wasn’t mortise and tenon there but it still would have been a lot of movement I think at that time so there may have been a few stones in originally, particularly for erecting it and keep things in place, to keep this thing together. Also keeping it pushed out because there was actually a slight recess in these corner posts that kept the side panels locked into their position. I think they relied on a little bit of forced outward from some type interior material and not just the pin there. We removed all of the debris from the interior, it was hoisted out. It was mostly sandstone rubble. When we got lower it was extremely sandy and almost dirt and composition as well as a few mouse nests and chipmunks that we’re very happy with us. Here’s the base when we finally got to it. You can see the tenon of the mortise joints in the base.
The base still is in surprisingly good condition. It could be from it being buried as much as it was. The sandstone was consolidated with the OH-100 through their cycle treatments covered for it was at least 9 weeks’ worth of the time. All the minor cracks are injected the Yon of 32 that was tempted then capped with the colored mortars. Because of all different selection of syringe types for different grouts that are used. The bigger cracks were filled with the Yon 40 and capped with Yon 70 that was tinted to match and all the grouts were tinted also in case they were exposed in the future. The tinting, we try to come up a match, this is actually a different sandstone but we try to come up with different colored sands. We do test to get the appropriate color for the tinting of the smaller cracks and the Yon if we can modify it, but typically the Yons we use we just add tint to.
To try and stabilize this whole thing and try to figure out how to reduce the moisture flow through the crypt, I thought that the best thing to do was to actually raise the base stone so it was viewable again because it had become buried over time. This whole cemetery’s on quite a steep hill and this is on a grade itself, and hence, 3/4 of the base was buried. It was initially intended to be viewed because the edges were carved. We decided to make a foundation and actually raise the base stone and we actually made a contour of the base foundation with Styrofoam and transferred that to wood so that we could have a form that conformed to the shape of the base itself. It was a very irregular piece of stone on the bottom of the base. We poured a concrete foundation on site. We actually did it with the bagged cement. We contemplated getting a truck to come up and actually pump it, but I was really afraid more damage might be done in the cemetery and surrounding stones; particularly the cleanup on the site.
I thought it would be best, and we just actually used bagged cement that was tinted, poured the foundation, put a stainless steel armature on the interior, and then conformed a lead sheet to the top of the foundation after the foundation cured. Then that lead sheet we actually floated the stones on a bed of mortar on the lead sheets. Now we created a water … It was a water permeable surface that would not allow even vapor to come up underneath the base slab and into the center of the crypt. I wanted to try and eliminate as much moisture in the interior crypt to try and prevent the damage on the exterior through water movement outwards. Then we designed a stainless steel frame and I brought that to a fabricator and he … While it was a 3/16 frame that actually held all the blocks in place. We core drill an epoxy 316 stainless anchors into the stone. There were 6 per big panel, 4 were small panels, and 2 corner posts. They were core drilled, this is actually a marble. Core drilled is a diamond-end bit, you can use it wet, you can do remarkably delicate drilling with it.
This is an iron pin that was removed from fragile marble. Then the panels were actually hung on this frame and set on lead shims. That way we could adjust the heights on all of the pieces and level it. Over the years and centuries, the stone didn’t cleanly break but actually warped prior to breaking. Trying to get the level piece on that stone wasn’t easy. We had a discrepancy in shimming of at least 1/2 inch across the bottom. The pins were set in epoxy and then they were held, not firmly in place but rather loosely in place just with nuts and a washer. They may allow for a just a slight bit of movement in the stone if it happens. Here’s an overview of the site showing the whole gantry and the reassembly. That’s a view of one of the pins after it was cleaned out. We filled those with mortar and we reset the object. Bob Atwell had a little piece that he wanted to put back inside that was about Reverend Chauncey, this campaign and I think some personal possession that he personally wanted to make sure went inside the tomb itself, or the crypt.
We put some epoxy on top of the metal frame. The actual slap of tabletop warped considerably also. The top edges of each of side panels are not very flat. The only bearing area of the side panels is the very edge that was finished flat. There was actually a considerable span between the bearing load and probably also due to the settlement over the years and the base had broken but the slab warped considerably. I wanted to give it some additional support toward the center and so I floated epoxy on top of the stainless steel to just put a simple polyester barrier between the two when we set it. What actually had for a little internal support of the top slab and take a little bit of the weight off of the side walls. There we are hoisting in place so let’s just go back. There you can see that on the interior that we added a little bit of epoxy there that conformed to the bottom of the stone to contour that we were placing and then the plastic over so that it actually wouldn’t bond to it, over lap a little bit.
Then they pointed everything with a … Choosing the mortar color for this was not easy. Was it delicate still? Yeah, we had really large joints so we actually ended up using I think one Portland 1.5, one putty, and then 7 thread sand aggregate. This is it, this spring I went back to look at when we were done and it … It’s a little high in the shape here but I’m really afraid we’re going to have a lot more erosion that’s going to come down from this top area of this slope. This is going to start to get covered again. We were talking at the cemetery because actually there’s a lot of loss of earth down here. We could grade this back off as well. The color matching the concrete worked out fairly well and it’s actually not that noticeable on site, particularly when the grasses start growing again around our object. There was a little bit of bleaching and I’m not sure … There was a ton of Portland cement that I took out, particularly along the edges and there’s some discoloration particularly right on the edge itself, I’m not entirely sure what that is.
There could have been some bleaching from the mortar itself but there’s not that much mortar there and so I need to look into that and find out what may have caused some of that. There’s just been a few isolated spots. You can see a little bit of the Portland left. We actually used a drill to get the bulk of it out. Oh, that’s another object. That is basically it. We had some slight failure of one patch I think under here, the Yon when I went back to look at it, which I could fix, and then a fill up the top that needs a little more attention. Overall it held up extremely well to this point. It’s been a short time, it’s been 2 years so we’ll keep monitoring.
Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr.
Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr. was the first minister in Durham, CT and served the community from 1706 until his death in 1756. He was born in Hatfield Massachusetts in 1681, to the parents of Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey Senior and Abigail Strong. His grandfather, Reverend Charles Chauncey, was the second president of Harvard College from 1654-1672. Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr. was the first student to graduate from the Collegiate School in Saybrook, CT. The Collegiate School was chartered in 1701 for youth to be educated for “employment in Church & Civil State.” The school relocated to New Haven, CT in 1716 and was renamed Yale College in 1718.
The Connecticut Valley sandstone gravemarker of Reverend Nathaniel Chauncey, Jr. consists of an above ground, table top crypt. The structure originally relied on stone mortise and tenon joints between four corner posts and monolithic foundation and table top sections. Four side panels keyed into the corner posts and interior rubble prevented the panels from pushing inward. The crypt suffered from years of weathering, organic growth, disaggregation of the stone, severe deterioration of the lower crypt sidewalls, failing inappropriate repairs, losses, failure of the original mortise and tenon joints and failure of the stone foundation.
The general soiling and loose biological growths were removed with Biowash and gentle hand scrubbing. Rinsing with water at 2,500 psi with a 40 degree fan-tip at a working distance of 18” to 30”, depending on the stone fragility, removed the solution and much of the soiling. Localized treatment with ProSoCo SK 766 Limestone Prewash (sodium hydroxide) and Afterwash (acetic acid) removed tenacious growths. Hammer, chisel and Dremel removed repair mortars and smeared mortar on the stone surfaces. Compressed air and water removed loose debris from cracks.
Using scaffold towers, I beam, hoist and trolley, the crypt was opened, rubble removed and the sandstone disassembled and staged for continued treatment. The friable sandstone was consolidated with Conservare OH-100, following the prescribed cyclical applications and MEK rinse. The stone was protected from direct sun exposure and rain with plastic sheeting for a week and left to cure for 9 weeks.
A new concrete footing and support slab, reinforced with 316 stainless, was cast below the removed foundation stone. The profile of the slab conformed to the irregular profile of the historic sandstone base by using forms trimmed to the stone contours and floating the foundation sections (protected with plastic) onto the slab and wood form.
A lead sheet barrier isolated rising damp from the concrete and the foundation stone set in a bed of mortar. A 316 stainless steel armature and anchor system was fabricated to fit into the crypt hollow to support the corner posts and side walls. The stones were wet diamond cored, anchored and epoxied with Hilti Hit 500, positioned and attached to the armature. A missing corner post was fashioned in the nearby Portland quarry. A mortar consisting of 1 white Portland: 2 lime: 8 red sand, sealed all joints. Patches were done with Jahn M70tinted with Bayferrox Pigments. Small cracks, preflushed with 10% ethanol and water, were injected with tinted Jahn 32.