A man in a leather jacket stands in front of an ornate Victorian buildingSince 2003 Marco Federico has applied his passion for historic preservation to the halls of Eastern State Penitentiary, the University of Virginia, the statuary at the New York Public Library, and historic grave markers in the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Churchyard.

A Principal Conservator at Philadelphia-based, Heritage Conservation Collective, he has extensive experience with conservation treatments, on-site conditions assessments, and documentation.

He received his Masters of Science in Historic Preservation from the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the American Institute of Conservation.

Marco loves all things antiquated and ancient, from bicycles to bricks. He can smell a lime-based mortar from 20 feet away, prefers mortadella to prosciutto, and makes a mean Sazerac. [Link for Sazerac provided for historic overview only. We aren’t revealing Marco’s secret recipe!]

Marco was on a team recognized by Preservation Pennsylvania at the 2023 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards with the Ralph Modjeski Award for Excellence in Transportation Design, Preservation or Archaeology.

[Featured image above is from a 1776 map by Benjamin Eastburn [Easburn, as printed on the map, is incorrect] of the City of Philadelphia from the Library of Congress. Christ Church Burial Ground is marked with a red star.]

I would like to profess my undying love for Christ Church Burial Ground.  Located at the SE corner of 5th and Arch Streets in the Old City Neighborhood of Philadelphia, it was once a bucolic, lush setting away from the hustle and bustle of what was the center of the colonial city of Philadelphia in 1719.

A view across the Christ Church Burial Ground shows a mix of flat stones and upright grave markers. The sunlight makes the grass very green and in the distance tall trees provide shade.
A view of the Christ Church Burial Ground at Arch and 5th Street.

I first became acquainted with the site when I was fresh out of college in the early 2000s, working as a conservation technician for a local non-profit.  It was here that I learned the craft of stone conservation through gentle and meticulous agitation and massaging of gravestones and mechanical repairs of fragmented grave markers.

Under its centuries old oaks and maples, I learned of carbon crusts, stone deformation and a phenomenon known as hysteresis in which a slab of stone can flex and bow.  I was awed by my first bucranium and righted my very first obelisk. Through careful study and practice, I came to know the difference between delamination and exfoliation.

a solid slab of stone curves on top of brick piers that support either end and the middle
The phenomenon known as hysteresis in which a slab of stone can flex and bow.

A decorative funerary marker Many know this green campus for its posthumous population, primarily persons of consequence but I would be rendered into a soft putty by its stones.  I was moved by the personal histories, tragedies and love stories memorialized in white marble, sandstone, granite, and the rare and elusive Pennsylvania Blue Marble.

The site itself is a quiet refuge, for within its brick walls you might for a moment forget that this small remnant of colonial Philadelphia is now enveloped by bridge traffic, tour buses, massive imposing government buildings, or office towers.

But this love is not something I can keep unto myself. This is a love that begs to be shared and experienced so that you may know this wonder. Walk the lesser tread paths, take time to admire and reflect.


Click here to learn more about Christ Church Burial Ground and its preservation work.

Interesting in advancing the work of Christ Church Preservation Trust? The organization is seeking a new Executive Director. Click here to download more information about the position.