Gardner Cemetery Restoration Project
Named after Ebenezer Gardner – a significant figure during the American Revolution – the cemetery is currently in a state of disrepair. In 1996, the Whitneyville Grange helped on a volunteer project to clear out the overgrown plot area and prop up stones with wooden braces. While the space remains clear, the wooden braces have long since disintegrated and many of the stones have once again fallen back into the earth.
About the restoration process
For a more permanent solution, the cemetery needs a complete and thorough restoration. The first step is to get all the fallen stones off the ground and onto 2X4s left by their bases until the repair work can begin. The entire area also needs to be probed for additional stones hidden beneath the soil and found stones leveled up by hand using plastic implements to avoid further damage. The stones are gently cleaned with brushes and using only water. The majority of the stones in the Gardner cemetery are marble, and over time, have become very soft and brittle.
The challenging work occurs next. Stones broken off their bases are either reset into an existing base, or the stone may need to be set into a new base of a poured lime-based mortar. Fiberglass pins are used to repair stones with "blown out" corners, and cracked stones are repaired with a special adhesives and lime-based patching mortar.
Other stones not yet broken from their bases need to be raised, straightened, and stabilized. A drainage bed of crushed pea stone gravel and sand is ideal for the reset stones as it disperses the ground water preventing future toppling due to the natural freeze-thaw cycle.
In order to restore and conserve this important cemetery the right way requires the expertise of professionals and volunteers trained in historic gravestone preservation using the techniques described above.
More about Ebenezer Gardner and the cemetery
Ebenezer Gardner played a key role in the American Revolution. He and a group of patriots attempted to seize Fort Cumberland in Nova Scotia, and had the revolt been successful, the Canadian providence may have become another New England state. However, the attempt failed, and his patriotism cost him his home and nearly his life. While the British were burning down his Nova Scotian farmhouse, Gardner and his family narrowly escaped traveling 500 miles by foot through the dead of winter to the Machias area where he later built his second farmhouse. More details of Gardner’s amazing story are included in the article, “Nova Scotia: The Lost Star and Stripe”, located on the History page.
Gardner lived to the age of 97, and he and his family are buried in the cemetery. The cemetery is relatively small, measuring approximately 70 feet in length and 30 feet in width. While there are no known official records, there are approximately 24 graves dating from 1817 to 1890. Only fourteen 14 headstones and 7 footstones remain today, and most of the headstones are illegible due to erosion.
In 1985, Sanford L. Williams of Littleton, Massachusetts created a plan of the Gardner family cemetery and notated the following of those interred:
Are you a descendant of any of these families? If so, please drop us a line and let us know – we would love to hear more about their personal stories.
Visit the cemetery
The Gardner Cemetery located on Mic-Mac Lane off the port road in Machiasport, Maine.
Help support the project
If you are interested in financially supporting our mission to restore this historic landmark, just click here and click on the Donate Now button. Your donation is safe, secure, and private. In absence of available grants and financial assistance from state and local governments, your generous support of any amount is most welcome to help reach our goal of $5,000 for labor and materials.