STEUBENVILLE - Most any project undertaken has a story behind it.
And in the case of the Hetty Elizabeth Beatty No. 1419 Chapter of the Questers, there's a tale to tell as well, albeit a short and sweet one.
The old stone chapel building at Union Cemetery needs some TLC, plain and simple.
Members of the Hetty Elizabeth Beatty No. 1419 Chapter of the Questers have launched a project to restore the old stone chapel building constructed in 1892 at Union Cemetery in Steubenville. Standing in front of what was the original office at the cemetery are, top photo, from left, front, Nada Viltro, Eleanor Drazich, Donna Sweeney and Edna Walley, and back, Marilyn Weaver, Sue Haseltine, Dottie Bossert and Helen Reed.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
Questers members Eleanor Drazich, president, and Edna Walley came to that conclusion as frequent visitors to the cemetery founded in 1854, a place many enjoy a stroll through.
So do Drazich and Walley, who as routine walkers there couldn't help but notice the building constructed in 1892 was sadly on the decline.
"Well, we could see if something isn't done, it could just collapse," said Drazich recently as members of the Questers chapter gathered to promote a project they hope the public will commit to as well, financially or physically or both.
And restoring historical buildings is right up the Questers' proverbial alley.
They are people, after all, who "enjoy antiques and history," and the international organization is one that encourages the preservation and restoration of historical landmarks, according to the International Questers website.
So plans were made by the end of 2012 to forge ahead with such an undertaking in 2013.
Already the slate roof was repaired in May, and a work day brought progress in cleaning out the inside of what was the original cemetery office. The agenda included removing plastic wallboard, dropped ceiling and vinyl flooring, all products of a 1960s do-over.
"We are now raising funds to have the stone pointed where needed," she said.
The stone needs cleaning, and a rafter in the lower level needs repair.
"We won't know just what needs done until after removing ceiling flooring and walls on the inside," Drazich said.
Windows and doors are anticipated to need attention as well.
"The Questers are all about restoration and preservation, and you're supposed to have a project going, so this is our project," Drazich said.
But the project is one the public should care about, too, in that the cemetery is a common denominator.
"Well this is our (the public's) cemetery, a lot of people walk in here and the kids jog in here, and we have our parents buried here. I think that's really the main thing. We're really connected," Drazich said in response to the question why should the public be concerned with such n undertaking.
A committee of concerned Questers interested in the building being restored includes Helen Reed, Dottie Bossert, Marilyn Weaver, chair Donna Sweeney, Sue Haseltine, Nada Viltro, Walley and Drazich.
Volunteers interested in helping or Boy Scouts, for example, contemplating an Eagle Scout project can contact the Questers for information at (740) 264-9272.
"Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals."
That quote by Sir William Ewart Gladstone, who first served as prime minister of Great Britain starting in December of 1868 during the reign of Queen Victoria, is inscribed on a plaque on the maintenance building at Union Cemetery in Steubenville.
And it's a quote the Hetty Elizabeth Beatty No. 1419 Chapter of the Questers is endeavoring to honor by moving forward on the campaign to restore the old stone chapel building constructed in 1892.
"This was the original office at Union Cemetery," said Walley, who noted the first Jefferson County Courthouse bell hangs in the belfry.
Dave Wertz, a professor of restoration at Belmont Community College, and Joe Benline, supervisor at Union Cemetery, assessed the damaged slate, according to Walley. "In addition to the roof, they would like to repair any additional deterioration to the building along with planting new shrubbery to complete the project," Walley had said when the project was first publicized in late December
The cemetery was founded in 1854 and is "a beautiful part of our community and second on the national registry for lawn beauty," Walley said. "It is, as the history of the cemetery points out, 'a community album and sanctuary for the dead and a source of inspiration for the living.'"
Walley said it is there that the public enjoys walking, jogging, school field trips, bird watching, the study of plants and wildlife or just relaxing on a bench and reflecting or reading.
"The Questers would like to ensure that this beautiful and historical place of rest will remain a place to admire and respect for at least another 150 years," Walley said.
While the chapter has raised some funds toward the restoration, additional funds are needed to aid in the project, according to Walley.
"With the help of donations from the public, they can proceed with this project as planned," Walley said.
For anyone interested, checks can be made out to Questers H.E.B. Chapter and sent c/o the Pugliese Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 2620, Wintersville, OH 43953.
Donations are tax-deductible.
For information on lending assistance, call (740) 264-9272.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)