Four months ago a vault truck accidentally took out the historical columns that stood at the entranceway of Fain Cemetery. The truck was too tall to make it through the entranceway, and hit the ironwork that went across the top of the columns. The columns had already had some damage from previous accidents, and came tumbling down.
“This is something that is really important to the people of Calhoun, especially the older generation,” Harry Ward the subcontractor that took on the mission of reconstructing the columns said.
Ward is a local contractor out of Resaca and has been doing natural stonework for 25 years, and he said this task made him a little nervous but he was excited to get to take it on.
“The columns were built by Mr. Hillhouse around 100 years ago, along with most of the rock work in the cemetery. Hillhouse also did quite a bit of other stone work around Calhoun,” Ward said.
Ward said the Gordon County Historical Society wanted to keep the columns as closely identical as they could to the original.
One of the few things that did change about the columns was their height.
According to Ward, the columns had been damaged before due to how low to the ground they were, so to prevent future mishaps like this Ward raised the columns up. The projected clearance under them after everything is finished will be 16 feet.
There were no blueprints for Ward to work with, so he had to go off of what the columns looked like that where already down.
He said he thought about the plans every night before he went to sleep, because he knew this was important to the people of Calhoun, and he wanted to reconstruct the columns as closely to the original as he could.
The type of rock that was used to rebuild the columns is Knox Chert. This rock was imported locally from Mill Creek Mountain.
While replicating it as close as possible Ward even used river sand for the caps, which is more grainy, because he says Hillhouse used “MOH, material on hand.”
The columns are 40 inches at the bottom and 30 inches at the top, and each ones weighs a total of 10,000 pounds with the footer, which are the original footers from the previous columns.
The only other original piece that lasted is the plaques that were donated by Dr. Wyley R. Harbin, as a memorial to his wife Mary Shelor Harbin, when the columns were originally built.
“I think it has turned out really nicely,” Ward said. “This was no mason trick, just a string and a line level. It’s like putting together a big puzzle when you stone stack like this.”
The complete cost for the reconstruction was $11,600, according to cemetery director Keith Cochran. He also said the money for the repairs came from the liability insurance through State Farm.
The stonework was completed this week, and the ironwork should be completed within the next month to a month and a half.
Robert Hurd is doing the ironwork for the sign that will go across the top just like before.
“This is an outstanding job Harry has done,” Cochran said.