Ruins of Barn in Shaker Village, Harvard, MA.
Appreciation is always the first objective to be realized. After all, one must appreciate a phenonenon before one investigates it,attempts to preserve it, or educate other about it. Below are two examples from someone who didn't appreciate old stone walls and one who does.
BAD NEWS FROM THE BERKSHIRES
The following text is exerpted (with permission) from an article titled Trekking Across the President's Desk, by Richard C. Roberts of Mansfield, Connecticut. It is reprinted from the quarterly newsletter of a genealogical organization, Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor -- Volume XXI, Number 2, Winter, 2004.
I've spent at least some part of every summer since 1955 near this old homestead, and walking down the lane, through the meadow to the pond, has been an important part of my family's heritage. But in the summer of 2002, when repeating that familiar ritual, we were shocked to find that the stone walls that lined the land were being dismantled and the stones being piled on wooden pallets baled together with chicken wire and loaded onto a flatbed tailer, perhaps destined for a garden center or landscaping company. Today, little remains of the walls but a 1903 "pinhole" picture, other more recent photos, and memories.
Later that summer, I attended Mansfield, Connecticut's "Know Your Town Fair" and found Robert M. Thorson stffing a table on behalf of the Stone Wall Initiative. "How did you feel?", he asked when I told him my story. I've never had a completely satisfactory answer to that question, but perhaps feeling "raped and pilaged" comes closest. For, while the property had been sold some 55 years ago and I have no legal say in what the curent property owners can do, part of my heritage and New England's heritage is gone.
GOOD NEWS FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE
The following article was written for the Stone Wall Initiative by Rufus Frost, of Marlborough, New Hampshire. He is a member of the Marlborough Heritage Commission, which is busy preserving a patch of ground within view of Mt. Monadnock. Thanks to Rufus for submitting this in January, 2004.
Stone Wall Appreciation is Alive and Well in New Hampshire
In the late 1700s the Town of Marlborough, New Hampshire was an agricultural community with its center located high on a hill overlooking majestic Mt. Monadnock. In addition to the scattered farm houses, the center of town was the location of the cemetery, town pound and the Meeting House. In the early 1800s as water powered industries were established along the nearby Minnewawa River, the town began to develop in the valley. People moved from the hillside farms to be closer to their employment in the textile mills, box companies, pail companies, etc.
Eventually some of the farms were abandoned and, as new residents came to town, there was a gradual change from primarily an agricultural to a industrial community with its center in the river valley. Schools and new houses of worship appeared in the village and in 1865 the abandoned Meeting House eventually collapsed in a violent wind storm. During the 20th century, what at one time were open fields outlined by stone walls (AKA farmer's walls) soon became forests of oak, maple, ash, birch, pine etc. The beautiful views of surrounding hills and Mt. Monadnock became a distant memory to the elders and nonexistent to the young. The old cemetery was never abandon and is one of five in the town.
In late 2002 the Marlborough Heritage Commission began an effort to reclaim this old site of the Meeting House and town pound. Permission was granted from the Selectmen and a large effort was successful in raising funds to make this dream become a reality. In May of 2003 the 1 3/4 acre lot was cleared of most of the trees and brush, some mature trees being left for their natural beauty. Stumps were removed, the land regraded and seeded. About 150 feet of stone wall was pushed aside to allow for heavy equipment to enter and exit the site. Most of this wall was in very poor condition before the start of the project and more stones were brought to the site to await the rebuilding effort. In October wall builder David Quimby, and associate Francis Bacon, began the task of rebuilding the 150' old farmers wall. In less than one week their job was completed and they did an excellent job in making the rebuilt wall fit in perfectly with the existing neighboring walls.
In 2004, the Marlborough Heritage Commission (with the able assistance of waller, Dave Quimby, will begin restoration of the old Town Pound which is located on the lot of the original Meeting House. Soon residents and visitors will be able to get a clear picture of what this historical dry stone walled structure looked like 200 years ago when it was built by early settlers to corral stray farm animals. The public has been most supportive and complimentary of these efforts to restore the Meeting House site and the stone wall structures which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The site can be seen on Frost Hill Road about 1/2 mile off Rt. 124 a few miles south of the village of Marlborough, NH.