Saturday, July 11, 2015
Restoration of Anglo-American Cemetery Walls
On 21 June 2015, the last stone was put in place. After three years of preparation, the first phase of the Anglo-American Cemetery's Centennial Restoration was complete.
During a strong winter storm in 2012, two of the large trees that give the cemetery its character, fell and seriously damaged the north wall onto the street and the south wall onto the adjacent cemetery. With limited funding at the time, the AACA sought temporary solutions to secure the crumbling walls.
A restoration plan was created by Jad Salamé, AACA member and independent landscaping and architecture consultant to the American University of Beirut. The bid to actualize the project was granted to contractor Joseph Bader and supervised by cemetery manager Yahia Bsat.
Initial work commenced in late May 2015 when the damaged sections of the walls were excavated and new cement bases places were poured.
For the north wall, a reinforced concrete standing wall was first erected, which was then faced with new stones that match the historic style of the original wall.
For the south wall, the original sandstone blocks were employed to mend the broken wall, while additional supports were constructed onto the adjacent walls.
Through the combined use of original and new stone, the Anglo-American Cemetery was able to maintain the cemetery’s historical legacy while securing the safety of this sacred space and its visitors, thereby serving as a suitable model for other historic spaces.
The AACA would like to thank those provided the financial support for this project. Initial funding was generously provided by Dr. Peter F. Dorman, whose family has long ties to Beirut and the Anglo-American Cemetery. Dr. Dorman’s relatives include Dr. Daniel Bliss (plot II G 4), first president of AUB (then called the Syrian Protestant College), his wife Abby Wood Bliss (plot II G 5), who was a childhood friend of Emily Dickenson and their son William Tyler Bliss (plot II G 3). The cemetery is also the resting place for Daniel and Abby’s daughter Mary Bliss Dale (plot II G 10), who, with Jane Elizabeth Van Zandt, founded the AUB School of Nursing, her husband Gerald FitzGerald Dale (plot II G 10), a Presbyterian missionary and teacher at Zahle, as well as two of their children, Carrie Lyon (plot II G 9) and Geraldine (plot II G 10).
A graciously donation by Honorary Consul, Mr. William Zard Abou Joude allowed the AACA to complete the restoration project.
The next phase of AAC's Centennial Restoration includes the restoration of the front gate, the renovation of the grounds, the purchase of a larger water cistern and the installment of an electrical system. If you are interested in supporting one of these projects, the AACA would be happy to arrange for a donation. For more information please contact AAC secretary, David Roche through email david.roche (at) hotmail.com (replace at with @)
Christine B. Lindner
11 July 2015