Almost 100 year old Oak Grove Cemetery fence receives intricate restoration

A worker uses a screwdriver to scrape rust off each picket of the 850 feet long wrought iron fence. (Source: KTRE Staff)
A worker uses a screwdriver to scrape rust off each picket of the 850 feet long wrought iron fence. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Richard Smith of Llano River Fence Company lights a torch to heat the wrought iron so bends can be straightened. Grinders and sandblasting are other tools used. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Richard Smith of Llano River Fence Company lights a torch to heat the wrought iron so bends can be straightened. Grinders and sandblasting are other tools used. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches is the final resting place for legendary Texans, including four signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Right now, it's what's stands around the Oak Grove is receiving needed attention.

It would be so much easier to replace the aging fence around Oak Grove Cemetery, but why do that.

"The fence is believed to be about 100 years old," said Richard Smith, with the Llano River Fence Company.

Smith and the Llano River Fence Company crew recognize the wrought-iron material and craftsmanship.

"It's unmatched today and it's just a miracle a fence like this is still around but it was good metal," Smith said.

It's metal that is being painstakingly restored picket by picket.

"They're half-inch solid steel," Smith said. "There's 810 feet and they're on four-inch centers."

The job starts at each end, and eventually, workers meet in the middle.

"We'll take hammers and straighten out what we can without heat," Smith said. "Then we kinda come back through with heat and heat up the pieces that need to be bent back into shape. And then we sandblast."

The crew sandblasted a section of the fence, and Smith added, "And then we'll be painting and putting a finish on it."

There's not a lot of documented history about the Oak Grove Cemetery fence. The Cum Concilium club paid for it back in the 1920s. That very same club, along with the Bright Foundation and Friends of Historic Nacogdoches are paying for the restoration at no cost to the city.

"The fence is just as much a part as the tree, as much as the headstones," said Brian Bray, the director of community services. "It tells a story as well."

The fence will be around for the upcoming launch of the Zion Hill Baptist Church restoration. 
And people will continue to say...

"It's been a good fence," Smith said.

The Oak Grove Cemetery fence restoration is moving along faster than expected.

Once completed, it will be dedicated in the memory of Francis Shofner who launched the restoration project. Shofner passed away last June.

Copyright 2018 KTRE. All rights reserved.