The beauty of the stone arch that serves as the entryway of the West Parish Garden Cemetery on Reservation Road is currently obstructed by scaffolding.

On Feb. 27, a wind storm that tore through the area peeled off a third of the copper roof cap of the arch, causing significant damage to the entire structure.

Now the arch is under major repairs at a substantial cost and the cemetery board of directors is seeking donations from the public.

“When the roof cap was peeled off it came down on the ground and it was a third that had come off," said West Parish board of directors member James Batchelder. "The rest of it had shifted so we were forced to remove the entire cap.”

After that work was done, he said, "We realized that there was significant damage to the top of the arch and it was going to be a lot more involved than we had originally thought.”

The storm also shifted the keystone and a few other cap stones which are going to have to be removed and reset.

According to Batchelder, the keystone alone is 10 feet long, 4 inches thick, 2 feet high and it weighs in at 5,400 pounds. 

The stones of the arch, like the surrounding walls, are not easily replaced. They are made of Milford pink granite, a special kind of granite from Milford, Massachusetts, that appears gray in the sunlight and turns pink in the rain.

The quarries where the granite was harvested from the late 19th century to around 1940 no longer exist, Batchelder said.

He added that the insurance company will only cover the cost of restoring the copper cap. The scaffolding that was installed by Vertex, an engineering firm, cost $22,000 alone. It’s anticipated that restoring the arch will cost the board about $100,000 in total.

Batchelder said they need help from residents willing to chip in and make donations to help defray this unexpected cost.

“If everyone in town donates $25 we should be able to cover the cost,” he said.

To help visit http://westparishgardencemetery.org and specify that the donation is for “arch restoration.” You can also call (978) 475-3902.

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