Mount Avon Cemetery mausoleum, vault in ‘disrepair’

Historical Commission, city partner to restore and repair buildings

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 20, 2012

 This photo of the roof of the mausoleum at the Mount Avon Cemetery shows how one of the top stones on the building is being pushed out of place because of the freezing and thawing process. All stones will be taken off, cleaned up and reset as part of the project.

This photo of the roof of the mausoleum at the Mount Avon Cemetery shows how one of the top stones on the building is being pushed out of place because of the freezing and thawing process. All stones will be taken off, cleaned up and reset as part of the project.

Photo provided

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ROCHESTER — The mausoleum and receiving vault at Mount Avon Cemetery are in need of some major repairs, city officials say.

Rochester City Council member Ben Giovanelli said pictures of the two structures that were shown to council during its Goals and Objectives meeting in January were “appalling.”

“It’s just sad that it got to this state,” he said.

Established in the early 1800s, Mount Avon Cemetery is bordered by Wilcox, Third, Taylor and First streets in downtown Rochester. Its mausoleum and receiving vault — which have been classified as historic structures, circa 1925 — have not been repaired in quite some time because the maintenance activities were deferred by the city due to limited funding.

Public Works Director Bill Bohlen said the majority of the construction would be done to the mausoleum, which DPW staff evaluated in November and discovered that the roof was in “severe disrepair.”

“We found out that the roof was last installed in 1977 — a 30-year life expectancy, five years overdue — and it’s in really bad shape, to the point where it’s letting water go underneath the large limestone squares — they weigh roughly 350-500 pounds — and with the water that goes underneath it, it’s actually shifted one block nearly six inches at this point. If it shifts any further, it could actually come down and actually start to topple over, so with that, we went out and pursued restoration contractors that specialize in this type of work. It’s definitely in a serious point of disrepair at this point and really needs further action before we incur any other damage internally,” he said.

Rochester City Clerk Lee Ann O’Connor said the receiving vault is a historic building that the city plans to return to its original state by demolishing the two additions, and having the building cleaned, tuckpointed, which involves using contrasting colors of mortar, and sealed.

“We plan to remove the two additions that have been added to the receiving vault. There’s one on the south side and then there is one on the east side. We’re going to restore that back to its original use and state … and hopefully the Historical Commission will be able to utilize that for some sort of historic-type teachings or meetings,” she said.

The estimated cost for the receiving vault portion of the project is $19,000, which the Rochester Historical Commission will pay for. The commission approved $9,000 in funding from the 2012 fiscal year and $10,000 in funding from 2013 fiscal year in proposed funding for the project.

To help minimize costs, Bohlen said the Rochester Fire Department and the city’s Public Works Department would work together to remove the two additions on the receiving vault.

RAM Construction Services of Livonia will perform repairs, restoration and preservation of the mausoleum and receiving vault at the cemetery for a total of $139,380 — $115,794 for repairs to the mausoleum and $24,406 for the receiving vault, which Bohlen said will be spread out over the 2012 and 2013 fiscal year budgets because of the magnitude of the repairs.

Mayor Stuart Bikson said the cemetery committee has worked “very hard” on this project, which the council approved with a 6-0 vote March 12. Council member Steve Sage was absent from the meeting.

“These are desperately needed changes, so we have to do this. Also, I want to thank the Historical Commission, which has stepped up to help, because these are historic buildings, so I think it’s a good mix from everybody involved,” Bikson said.

Crews are expected to begin working on the project in late April or early May, and Bohlen guesses they will conclude the first portion of the project in July.

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