Phase I work begins on Chester Public Tomb

Repair work has begun on Chester’s Public Tomb, on Main Street across from the Green. Built in 1850, the building shelters those who must await burial until after the ground thaws.

Troweling Peter Moore

Peter Moore works on the Chester Public Tomb last week. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

The repair of the tomb’s walls and slate roof is the first project in Phase I of the combined restoration planned for the Public Tomb, adjacent iron fence and nearby Hearse House – all undertaken by the Chester Beautification Committee, which will soon be changing its name to  Chester Townscape to reflect the expanded work that this group of volunteers has undertaken to enhance the look and character of Chester.

Master mason Peter Moore of Pawlet, using a variety of hand and power tools, is removing deteriorated old lime mortar and chiseling out modern Portland cement, which was superimposed over cracks in the mortared joints of the granite-block tomb.

Moore said that the harder cement is less flexible than the original lime mortar and doesn’t move with the granite blocks, movement that is inevitable when a building has no concrete foundation. Having dug out the crumbled mortar and inappropriate cement, Moore will fill the joints with historically accurate lime mortar, replace broken slates on the roof and repair the hole there.

Moore said, “The building is beautiful – all hand done – with granite blocks coming from a small deposit in Gassetts.”

Chester Townscape is soliciting bids for work on the nearby Hearse House and planning a fundraising campaign to cover both the basic restoration costs of Phase I for the combined area project and the educational components of Phase II that will help convert the Hearse House into a most visible historic attraction in the heart of Chester.

For more information on the project and how to contribute to efforts that promote the well-being of Chester, contact Tory Spater at 802-875-2952 or Suzy Forlie at 802-875-3634.


Mason Peter Moore removes crumbling mortar from joints in the granite-block walls of Chester’s Public Tomb, built in 1850 and positioned prominently beside the Brookside Cemetery and opposite the Village Green.

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About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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