This week the National Historic Landmark Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn was the site of a special graduation. Ten New York students received their certificates of completion for a historic masonry restoration course at a ceremony held in the cemetery.
The students completed a ten-week intensive course that provided both hands-on experience in restoration as well as development of other professional skills, such as interviewing and project management. During the program, the students restored a 19th century mausoleum in the cemetery. One student described the experience of working on this historic project as “quite an honor.” With their new certifications, these students are eligible to take the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers union exam, or pursue other careers in the field.
The Masonry Restoration Internship program at the Green-Wood Cemetery began in 2018. The program was the brainchild of the World Monuments Fund and run by Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, a job training non-profit. The first cohort of graduates worked on restoring two of the cemetery’s most notable mausoleums: the Miller Mausoleum and the William Niblo Vault, both built in the nineteenth century.
Neela Wickremesinghe, restoration manager at Green-Wood Cemetery and one of the founders of the program, explained that the cemetery was the perfect place to learn historic masonry restoration. “We have small versions or large historic stone structures that you see in every city in America,” she said.