A local couple has combined their creative talents to open a one-of-a-kind business in Storrs.
Will and Lisa Cornell have teamed up to open - a stone cleaning, repair and plot care service for the Connecticut area.
What began as a shared appreciation of historical cemeteries and stone carvings, slowly evolved into a realized business opportunity.
"Will was noticing all of these stones in disrepair and came up with the concept," Lisa Cornell said. "At first I fought it tooth and nail," she said.
But her husband's persistence eventually won out. "He started putting things together and slowly but surely, we started off," Lisa Cornell said.
“[Will's] got the brawns and the know-how and I’m an avid gardener and photographer and interested in the history and historical societies," she said.
And from there, a business was born.
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Their mission: "Giving peace of mind to those left behind."
“We wanted to be able to provide the care after you buy the stone," Lisa Cornell said. "It’s a huge investment. It’s your loved one and we’re a mobile society," she said. "No one is staying and living and dying in the same town anymore, so everyone is leaving their loved ones behind."
That's where the Cornells come in.
The pair is trained in the art of headstone cleaning and repair, lichen removal, monument leveling and preservation - all with the use of green products, so as not to harm the stone. They'll also plant flowers, edge and mulch a plot, and take photos for those who are unable to frequent their loved one's burial site.
“Some people just don't have the time or the mobility to get out there,” Will Cornell said. "We want residents to know that this service is available because it really hasn’t been before," he said. “We just want to let people know we’re out there and can do that."
Just over a month into business, the Cornells are already reaping the benefits of their unique niche.
They recently won a bid to clean the Fallen Fire Fighters' Memorial at the Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.
“There were a lot of bids in on that," Lisa Cornell said. "They liked that we were green and that we would not damage the stone with a quick fix. It’s hand done," she said.
The couple also works with cemetery sextons and historical societies to halt deterioration of historical headstones.
“We found one in complete disrepair with so much lichen on it, you couldn’t read the words," Lisa Cornell said of one project. "It was in this horrible pile," she said. We spent a Sunday afternoon and had the time of our life. It was so beautiful when we were done,” she said.
“We’re not trying to make everything look new,” Lisa Cornell said. "It’s not our job to recreate what the masters already did. We’re trying to preserve it."
For more information, contact the Cornells at 860-234-7096. For a complete list of gravestone restoration and maintenance services, or to request a free estimate, visit the Cornell's Web site at www.beyondthegravestone.com, or on Facebook at BeyondTheGravestone.