|A "lane" used to guide cattle to and from barn and pasture.
Stone Wall News
Note: This news section is no longer regularly maintained.
Pasture walls are indeed fences (with a little help from wire and wood), Block Island, RI.
February 24, 2010: A Revolutionary Wall. The Trustees of Reservations recently invited and published an article about what SWI coordinator Robert Thorson considers the most important stone wall in the United State. Link to A Revolutionary Wall.
February 13, 2010: Comment on Lapse in Activity: SWI website has had little attention of late. However, there have a been a number of talks in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. A list will follow soon.
August 25: Updates from New Hampshire. Ernst Kastning, from the NH State Geological Survey sent these three links regarding the recent legislation. The first is the legislation that was passed. The next two are stories from the Eagle Tribune.
August 23, 2009: Yet another Boston Globe Story on Stone Wall Conservation: An article titled "Sounding the Alarm on Stone Wall Thefts," by Lisa Kocian, published August 20, 2009, featured the work of Jeff Kotkin and Rep. Pam Richardson in seeking to strengthen state law. Congratulations.
August 15, 2009: Boston Globe Story on New Hampshire's New Legislation: Link here for an excellent story on the progress New Hampshire has made on preventing stone walls theft. The link is http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2009/08/10/nh_law_touted_as_weapon_against_stone_wall_raiders/
July 28-August 12: Anecdotal Survey of Walls from Maine to Montana: The SWI Coordinator and his wife, Kristine took a road trip across America titled Walden to Wobegon: A Freshwater Journey from Maine to Montana, posting to a daily blog. Incidental to the main theme of their trip over American's back roads was one certain conclusion. Though the glacial soils of the last great ice sheet extend that full distance, stone walls were almost completely absent outside of New England. Piles were abundant all over the Dakotas and eastern Montana. Why? Because in "Big Sky Country," the ratio of space to the concentration of stone is too high. If you are interested in the blog, click the link above.
July 18, 2099: Media Coverage of Stone Wall Conservation: For a regional example, the Memorial Day Weekend (May 24) issue of the Providence Sunday Journal published a front page feature story titled "Momentum Builds for Preservation of Stone Walls," by staff writer Tom Mooney and with photos by John Freidah. Beneath the headline was "With Laswuiits and statutes, people are recognizing the historical value of the ubiquitous New England icons, " which more or less says it all. The story described conservation developments in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. For a local story, the Guilford Courier (CT), published a May 21 story by Fay Abrahamsson titled "Markers of History: GPA Moves to Preserve Stone Walls." This documented work by the Guilford Preservation Alliance.
July 18, 2009: Stone Wall Documentary Released. Illusion Films has just released a documentary on stone wall conservation titled Passages of Time that has been in the works for several years. The film is based on the book Stone by Stone, and the work of the Stone Wall Initiative. Link to the film's homepage at ......www.stonewalldoc.com.... for description and a trailer. Needless to say, the SWI supports this effort, and encourages stone wall enthusiasts to obtain the film (through direct purchase or encouraging organizations to do so) and spread the word far and wide.
May 6, 2009: Update of Wall Preservation Page: There must be something in the air. In the last two weeks, the SWI director has had several requests for help in assessing the value of stone walls. In response, he added an assessment page, which links off of the main preservation page. Link to Assessment.
May 6, 2009: State Park Workshops offered by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR): Robert M. Thorson, coordinator of the SWI, will be offering an inservice training for employees of the Massachusetts DCR in May 2009, one in western Mass and the other in eastern Mass. The goal of the workshops are to enhance the interpretation of stone walls as an integral component of the natural history of state parks. Each workshop will involve a background lecture on the regional phenomenon, an outdoor tutorial for describing and interpreting stone walls, and a hands-on component involving wall repair at the degree of skill used by the those who built them, not that of fancy masonry. Though these workshops are restricted to DCR staff, Thorson would be happy to repeat the process elsewhere. If you have questions about the DCR process, contact Shaun Provencher at Shaun.Provencher@state.ma.us
March 25, 2009: Dry Stone Wall Workshop in Dummerston, Vermont: The SWI received a request to post this announcement. September 19 and 20, 2009. Save the Dates! The Scott Farm, Dummerston, Vermont in association with The Landmark Trust USA and instructor, dry stone wall mason Jared Flynn, are offering a two-day workshop in building a dry stone wall on Saturday and Sunday, September 19 and 20, 2009 from 8:30 to 4:00. This hands-on introductory workshop using Vermont native stone is designed to teach homeowners and trades people the structural techniques involved in building and restoring a historic field stone wall. After a short instructional video you will proceed to the outdoor classroom with breathtaking views across Scott Farm’s orchard to New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock. Participants will learn the correct dry stone walling techniques including safety, batter, hearting, throughs, and coping. The knowledge gained should help students train their eye to identify proper walling techniques in all walls, providing a lifetime of exploring. A tent will cover part of the work site as this is a rain or shine workshop. Participants need to bring gear for inclement weather, sturdy shoes, work gloves, and lunch. Safety goggles, tools (bring your own if you have them), morning coffee, fresh-picked Scott Farm apples, and water will be provided. The cost for the two-day workshop is $250. Please register for the course with Kelly Carlin at The Scott Farm (802) 254-6868 or e-mail email@example.com. Jared Flynn will field questions you have about dry stone walling, (802) 254-2432. Bring your friends and family and rent one of Landmark Trust’s historic Vermont vacation properties located on or near the farm, visit us at www.landmarktrustusa.org. For images of The Scott Farm and orchards visit, www.scottfarmvermont.com
March 19, 2009: New England Stone Walls on NPR's Morning Edition. Here is a link to an audio clip http://www.cpbn.org/files/audio/2009_03_13_File%20jl%200903%20Hub%20stonewalls%20.wav.mp3
March 19, 2009: Stone Wall Talks: Several correspondents have asked that I post the talks I will be giving.
Shrewsbury, MA, 7:00 PM, Shrewsbury Historical Society, talk on stone walls to be given in the "1830 Schoolhouse," located in the rear of hte commons next to the congregational church.
Wayland, MA, 7:00 PM, Wayland PUblic Library, Conaact Ana Knight, 508, 358-2311
Brooklyn, CT, 7:00 Brooklyn Historical Society and Brooklyn Garden Club, 459 Wolf Den Road, Brooklyn (talk in large, comfortable barn)
February 27, 2009. Story in Yankee Magazine by Jim Collins: The work of the Stone Wall Initiative is featured in a story published in the March/April issue of this magazine, very soon to be available for purchase. The story by writer Jim Collins, is accompanied by a photo essay consisting of Bill Hubbel's photographs and a phone interview by SWI coordinator, Robert Thorson. It is now available at http://www.yankeemagazine.com/issues/2009-03/interact/exclusives/stone-wall-photos.
January 18, 2009. Associated Press Story on Theft of stone walls by Travis Andersen: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/18/ne_lawmakers_get_tough_on_stone_wall_theft/
January 17, 2009: Stone on Craigslist. Someone just sent me a posting from Craigslist from the Boston are with this description "takeing apart a peace of a 2 hundred year old wall excelant stones 800$ truck load will delver about 9 tons e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call xxx-xxx-xxxx." This is probably taking place in your town as well. The only solution for this legal activity is a local ordinance.
January 9, 2009: REVISION OF MASSACHUSETTS STATE LAW. Jeff Kotkin of Framingham, MA offered this in an email and gave me permission to post it. Link to Proposed Law.
January 8, 2009: STORY OF THE WEEK for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, December 12, 2008.. Link to http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2008/story-of-the-week/not-set-in-stone.html.
December 12, 2008: NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION. The SWI just received an email indicating that an article about stone wall conservation will appear in their magazine today. When Prof. Thorson was interviewed for the story, he became reminded of how little we actually know about the unnecessary losses of historic stone walls from the landscape. With the appearance of this article, the time has come to compile a preliminary list of what you believe to be losses that didn't need to happen. For now, if you have information, please send me via email the:
- Map location (state/town/city etc.).
- Setting location (roadside, neighbor property line, park, cemetery, etc.)
- Degree of loss (a few stones to complete removal with estimate of length)
- Circumstances (a brief explanation, for example theft of captstones at night, or legal sale and removal by contractors)
- Contact Information (your own name and email. Indicate whether you want to remain anonymous).
- After the SWI gets a dozen or so of these reports, it will have a better idea of what is taking place and will move this to the preservation part of the web site. We cannot accept anonymous reports, but will keep the name of the reporter confidential. Thanks ahead of time.
November 4, 2008: STONE WALL WORKSHOPS: Charley MacMartin, of Queen City Soil & Stone in Hinesburg Vermont is hosting workshops and asked me to announce them. His announcement is below:
2008-2009 STONE WALL WORKSHOPS. Learn the basic techniques for
building dry-laid stone walls, with a special focus on stone native
to Vermont. Hands-on workshops are held inside warm greenhouses in
Hinesburg, Vermont. $100 for one-day workshops on selected
Saturdays, November 2008 through February 2009. For specific dates
and registration information, contact Charley MacMartin at
802-318-2411 or click on the 'workshop' link
October 17 , 2008: CHANGE IN THE SWI ACTIVITIES: For several reasons (not the least of which is the current financial recision at the University), the SWI will cut back on its outreach and membership activities. Instead, it will concentrate on maintaining this news link and upgrading portions of the web site when possible. Our original goal of the SWI as an active, person-to-person organization with a part-time staff-person responsible for posting and receiving materials from members and sending out a regular list serve cannot be supported without the funding we never had, and are not likely to get in the imminent future.
When the SWI was founded in 2002, the thought was that it would naturally evolve into a grant- or foundation-supported non-profit organization. But with its coordinator being a professor, research scientist, and regular part time journalist, there was only so much time to put into the effort. The time that could have been spent writing proposals or adminstering grants was instead spent visiting communities, giving talks, and consulting with historical societies, land trusts, public libraries, conservation organizations, and other groups. In effect, the coordinator was a road warrior for more than five years, spending what little time was left to work on the web site.
We believe that our hobbling-along effort was quite successful, given the remarkable improvement in stone wall appreciation, education, and conservation at the local level, as manifested by the passage of stone wall conservation ordinances and a higher profile for stone walls in local media. We have also reached a national audience through many magazines, National Public Radio, and the Associated Press.
Initially, the SWI was run out of the University of Conecticut as an outreach service to the community by one of its faculty. In 2005 it merged with the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, where it was able to secure a small office, phone, email account, and some student help through work study. Though this was very helpful, the coordinator or was still unable to provide sufficient leadership to raise the SWI to the level of a place with a real physical operation.
The SWI will remain a part of the museum, where it is a natural linkage, with the hopes that it will eventually stabilize with a small, part time budget for staff support, perhaps with foundation support, one that could maintain a membership file, hold meetings, and facilitate the exchange of information between members and member organizations. For the mean time, we will work entirely through the web site with a one-way flow of information from the SWI office to those who link on. Contact via email, phone, and hard mail is still encouraged, and will likely find its way into the news section.
Link to News Archive