Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s graves and the monument, which is the centerpiece of the tomb, were cleaned of disfiguring graffiti, obscenities and symbols that were spray-painted on the National Historic Landmark by vandals overnight April 26. With respect for the dead and the home’s visitors, the marred tomb had remained covered for the past six weeks.
The unveiling of the restored tomb coincided with the anniversary of Jackson’s funeral and burial at the Hermitage on June 10, 1845.
Attending speakers at the 30-minute ceremony included Reavis Mitchell, chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission; Richard Hollis, president general of the Society of the War of 1812; Kenneth Feith, president of the Andrew Jackson Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution; and Ashley McAnulty from the Andrew Jackson Foundation board of trustees.
“This isn’t just a grave; the tomb and the grounds that surround it are symbols of our forming democracy, signposts on the path to a more perfect union,” said Hermitage president and CEO Howard Kittell. “The ongoing struggle for empowerment and a broader recognition of human rights in the U.S. – those journeys begin here. We can erase paint, but not history. We have a duty to protect it so that we can learn from it.”
In restoring the tomb, the Andrew Jackson Foundation sought the advice of leading conservators from across the U.S. and hired one of the most renowned stone conservation companies to do the delicate work, Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio in Forest Park, Illinois.
The company used advanced laser ablation to remove the paint from the soft Tennessee limestone and restore the tomb. The same method is used to clean the marble façade of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The restoration of the Jackson tomb comes after unknown vandals desecrated the tomb with black and red spray paint overnight April 26. This act of vandalism was unprecedented in the 186-year history of the tomb. In response, the Hermitage invested in a new security system with more cameras, guards and around-the-clock surveillance.
Work began on the limestone tomb with its frame and copper roof in late 1831 and finished in the summer of 1832. Jackson died June 8, 1845 and was laid to rest two days later in the tomb. The inscription on his tombstone reads simply, “General Andrew Jackson, March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845.”
At various times from 1865 -83, the state of Tennessee carried out much-needed repairs to the Jackson tomb. In 1889, the state entrusted the Hermitage mansion and the Jackson tomb to the Ladies’ Hermitage Association, renamed the Andrew Jackson Foundation, in 2014.
Since then, the Andrew Jackson Foundation has worked to maintain and preserve the tomb and the landscape that surrounds it.
n 1977, significant restoration work took place on the Jackson tomb.
the garden continues to receive landscaping maintenance to preserve what was a special location for both Andrew and Rachel Jackson.