The Yeakel Cemetery Preservation Committee determined that significant cemetery wall damage from erosion and falling trees needed to be addressed. The committee raised funds from Bowman Properties, an anonymous donor, the Schwenkfelder Church, and others in order to carry out the conservation work. In the summer of 2020, the committee was able to hire Manero Masonry to rebuild and repair the north and east portions of the Yeakel Cemetery perimeter wall. The remainder of the wall repair project will be completed in 2021-2022.
Below are two photographs showing the damaged walls that needed repair. Following those are photos showing the wall conservation work in progress.
In June 2019, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia awarded the Yeakel Cemetery a Grand Jury Award for Preservation and Conservation.
With this award, the Preservation Alliance recognized the Yeakel Cemetery Preservation Committee for its ten years of preservation and conservation of the site. The Yeakel Cemetery is a time capsule of the 18th century preserved in the middle of woodland setting, surrounded but unseen by suburban houses and busy roads. The Preservation Alliance recognized the work of the Committee, which has restored this little known historic resource and rescued it from obscurity.
The Committee exemplifies a collaborative approach between diverse partners, including local historical institutions, a church, a land trust, an amateur historian, preservationists, neighbors, as well as volunteers and donors. These partnerships have led to increased awareness and preservation of a formerly hidden cultural resource.
The Yeakel Cemetery Preservation Committee has partnered with the two closest historical societies, the Springfield Township Historical Society and the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, as well as Natural Lands, all of which have been instrumental in supporting the Committee’s efforts with expertise, fundraising support, volunteers, and more.
Cemetery tours are offered periodically to the public. Jack Yeakel and Jerry Heebner have led the tours, explaining the background of the site, the history of the Schwenkfelder Church, information on people buried there, and connections to the American Revolution.
This spring, a second round of tombstone conservation took place at Yeakel Cemetery. Kristin Cardi, of Materials Conservation Co., having just completed treatment of Ben Franklin’s grave in Old City, once again led a team of conservators, technicians, and volunteers at Yeakel Cemetery.
This time the crew focused on the Northern section of the cemetery. Many grave markers had fallen and some were separated from their bases.
The team drilled out the old rusted iron rods and joined the stones to their bases using fiberglass dowels and epoxy.
Foundations were excavated and prepared with crushed stone for drainage. Then the assembled grave markers were reset level and plumb.
Finally, the tombstones were gently cleaned with a treatment of biocide.
More than half of the monuments have received high quality conservation treatment and the cemetery’s appearance has improved dramatically in recent years but more importantly, the careful steps that have been taken will help ensure this place will be around for future generations to enjoy. Only one more round of tombstone conservation is needed to complete the cemetery. Help us continue our mission by making a donation.
Finally, after several years of gathering proposals, fund-raising and site preparation, work begins on the tombstones. Kristin Cardi, of Materials Conservation Co., led the team of conservators, technicians, and volunteers that worked at the cemetery over the course of several weeks in October.
A treatment program was created based on priorities identified by both the Yeakel Cemetery Preservation Committee and Materials Conservation during multiple site visits earlier this year.
Kristin Cardi repairs a headstone
Conservation treatments included resetting misaligned markers, mechanical repairs, grouting and filling areas of material loss, re-pointing open mortar joints, cleaning biological growth, and consolidating fragile markers.
The work completed this October is phase one of a three-part treatment program that will address each monument. Phase two is tentatively scheduled to take place this Spring and, through the generous support of donors like you, funds will be raised this year for Phase three!
Special thanks to:
Architectural Conservators: Kristin Cardi, Marco Federico, Leigh Hassler
Back by popular demand,we will once again host tours of the cemetery to raise funds for the continuing preservation project. Jack Yeakel will introduce us to some of the residents of the cemetery and explain the significance of the site from its beginning before the American Revolution to its connections to landmarks we see today. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to visit this fascinating, little known historic site right in our own backyards.
Please note that there is an uphill walk on a trail to the cemetery site, and can be difficult for those with mobility issues.
Tour Date: Saturday September 19th at 1 PM and 3 PM.
Admission will be $15
Visitors are encouraged to pre-register by calling 215-233-4600.
Eleven months after the completion of the Cemetery Survey and Condition Assessment Report we are able to begin the tree work. The work was delayed when we were forced to replace our original arborist. It took several months doing walk-throughs and collecting bids before selecting Cox and Company to do the work.
Cox and Company used a tracked, self-propelled, high reach. This special piece of equipment is well suited for sites that are tough to access and can easily reach the top of this 60′ Sassafras.
John Cox cuts the limbs of this 50′ Maple and uses ropes to lower them to the ground.
The close proximity of the grave stones make this work quite challenging. The ground crew receives the limbs and carries them out of the graveyard.
The boom on the high reach is long enough to extend deep into the graveyard while remaining outside of the cemetery walls. Any one of these trees could be blown down in a storm causing catastrophic damage to the cemetery.
The removal of these trees helped to eliminate what was perhaps the cemetery’s greatest threat. Thanks so much to John Cox and his crew for a job well done!
We are pleased to announce that work has begun at the cemetery! Using some of the $15,000 we have raised so far, we have started with Phase I of our preservation work. On Oct. 28th, Kreillick Conservation began the critical task of surveying the site. A team of conservators and student volunteers led by Scott Kreillick, laid out a grid of string lines over the cemetery. This grid was used to record the precise location of each monument and gravestone. The team then numbered the stones, photographed them, and recorded detailed information for each one. They also assessed the condition of the stones and prioritized them to identify those that are most vulnerable. All of the data collected will be organized into a report that will be archived, ensuring the preservation of this precious information. If something bad were to happen, like a tree falling down, the report will help us put things back where they belong.
Special thanks to conservators Scott Kreillick, Allison Kreillick, Gabriel Harrison and volunteers Mandi Rush, Shannon Anastas, Jillian Tugya.
Please join us for a volunteer clean up as we prepare to begin Phase I of the preservation work. meet us at the cemetery on Saturday, October 19th from noon to 4:oo. The work will involve pulling weeds, raking leaves, and removing debris from within the graveyard. The bulk of this work will be done by hand to prevent damaging the stones with power tools. Please bring gloves and wear long pants and sturdy shoes. Rakes, clippers and other hand tools will be provided but feel free to bring your own. Rain date is the following week October 26. We are looking forward to seeing you!