VIENNA – Efforts by the Historical Society of Vienna and municipal officials have resulted in the repair and straightening of the historic obelisks in Vienna Cemetery.
An obelisk is a stone pillar, usually having a square or rectangular cross-section and a pyramidal top, erected as a monument or landmark. The obelisk symbolizes immortality.
Christine Novicky, president of the historical society, said the cemetery has many obelisks, some of which date back to the 1880s.
She said the society received a $1,000 grant to help repair the obelisks and a private donation of $1,000 was also received. Vienna Township trustees also donated $3,000. The $1,000 grant came from the Real Estate and Professional Licensing Division of the Ohio Department of Commerce.
“We want to try to repair as many obelisks as possible. There are about 15 to repair. We are delighted to be able to make some of them”, she says.
Some of the obelisks lean and create danger, and others have fallen. Some obelisks are 18 feet high.
The total cost for the 15 obelisks is around $30,000, Novicky said.
“It’s a slow process, but we’ll try to fix them one by one,” she says.
It is planned to do at least three and also clean the tombstones.
Novicky said someone mowing the cemetery lawn might accidentally knock one over. She said township officials understood it was a safety issue.
Tim Foor of Hallowed Ground Cemetery Preservation, a conservationist and cemetery sexton in the Columbus area, said he was part of the group Preserving Ohio Cemeteries and met Novicky last year.
Foor and his son, Mike Foor, used a tripod to lift parts of the obelisk and then disassemble it. Gravel was also placed by the obelisks and markers around the base.
An obelisk is next to the mausoleum. Foor said $5,000 covered work on three obelisks.
“The problem that happens with tall obelisks is that if someone is mowing or working and they bump into it, once you lean it a certain point, the top part may fall off. It won’t take a lot of pressure if he’s already bent over or unbalanced to fall,” Foor says.
He said the obelisks are very heavy, some weighing 200 pounds, so it’s important to level them, which makes them harder to move.
Foor, who runs workshops on what he does, said he was happy to be able to spend time on Father’s Day weekend with his son when they started work in Vienna.
Foor, for four years, has been all over the state and North Carolina helping with obelisks and other markers.
“It’s a seasonal job, but we stay busy” Foor says.
Foor, who runs a cemetery in Delaware County, said he has taken courses in resetting monuments and markers and has worked at many cemeteries to help different organizations and corporations.
He said he not only does the work in the cemeteries, but also learns some of the history of the people buried there.
Members of the Vienna Historical Society have worked to clean, reset and straighten old gravestones in the township.
“Many descendants still live in the area and are still curious to know where their loved ones are buried. We want to make sure the headstones are straight and clean,” said Novicky.
“We do what we can as volunteers to do smaller projects and straighten markers, but with larger projects we get professional help,” said Novicky.
She said society members will also go to smaller cemeteries, such as Dunlap and Doud, to clean headstones to make them easier to read.
“We will continue to work on the documentation of the cemetery”, she says.
The company will participate in Home Day Vienna with an exhibition on August 13.
The company also resumed in-person programming at its monthly meetings, held on the last Tuesday of the month.