SWI Archive



Below is the events/news archive of the old SWI, predating early 2010. It’s posted for historic purposes.

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 ishttp://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 Montanaposting 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 atShaun.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 kellyc@landmarktrustusa.org. 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 cliphttp://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 athttp://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 xxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com 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 tohttp://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
at www.queencitysoilandstone.com.

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.



April 20, 2008: NOT MUCH NEWS: Professor Thorson is largely done with his spring 2008 speaking schedule. The folks Bedford, Stoughton, and Chesterfield, MA seem quite fired up about stone wall conservation. We are ready for the next listserve next week.

March 5, 2008: SPRING EVENT CALENDAR IN PROGRESS: Professor Thorson has updated the programs for Spring 2008 through March 11, and will complete the rest by that date. Sorry for the delay.

December 12, 2007: UNUSUAL MEMBER PHOTO POSTED ON GALLERY PAGE. Colin Harty sent a photo that speaks volumes about the earliest fence-line stone walls of New England. It’s under the link to Membership, then member contributions. Click here to get there right away.

Also, thanks to those who have responded to the list serve sent out earlier this month. Many of us are on too many lists. Hopefully, this isn’t one of them.

December 12, 2007: ADD FOR WALL STONE. As you may know already, the Stone Wall Initiative opposes the legal stripmining of stone wall because it converts archaeology, woodland habitat into architecture. The add below — sent by a member — is a particularly boldfaced advertisiment for stripmining. I have changed the contact information to prevent sending them business.

LANDSCAPE, HARDSCAPE, hundreds of tons of very old FIELDSTONE – $40
Reply to: sale-4xxxxxx4@xxxxx.org
Date: 2007-11-16, 11:30AM EST

FIELDSTONE WALLS,VERY OLD, IN PLACE, AGED FOR YEARS,YOU PICK THE STONE YOU WANT,WOULD BE GREAT FOR WATERFEATURES,WALLS,DRIVEWAY ENTRANCES, RETAININGB WALLS ,LANDSCAPING MY CELL 207-318-9637. I HAVE ALL SIZES this stone is in place and is not scratched up from being moved around from machinery At only $40 a ton if you are a landscaper or hardscape company you could resell and make good money. Easy access and close to the highway.

Location: Gray, Maine

December 4, 2007: LISTSERVE BEING SENT OUT: Below is the text of a list serve announcement that just went out to those on our mailing list.

Dear Stone Wall Aficionados:

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are on this listserve either because you asked to join the Stone Wall Initiative (SWI), or because you have been an active correspondent with Professor Thorson about stone wall issues. If you do not want to be on this list, please contact the SWI, most easily at stonewall.uconn.edu.

My apologies for taking so long since the last announcement. Getting our list updated required the help of Joe Armington, a work study student at UCONN and a graduating senior. He’s adding the next few hundred names at the moment. Thanks Joe.

I am pleased to announce that we are making progress on all four objectives of the SWI. Here are some examples of recent events.


(1) Today, December 4, the Wall Street Journal carried a short article titled Taking Historic Stone Walls Crosses Boundary for Some. This was in response to a December 3 NPR (National Public Radio) story carried nationally on Morning Edition and produced by WNPR in Hartford by Lucy Nalpathanchil . If you missed it, its titled
New England’s Famed Stone Walls in Demand.

(2) Ed Bell from the Massachusetts Historical Commision forwarded me the following link. http://www.mass.gov/dcr/stewardship/histland/terra_firma5.pdf
This statewide effort shows the growing recognition of stewardship of the stone wall resource.

(3) The latest stone wall ordinance I know of was passed in the lovely Litchfield Hills town of Washington, Connecticut. I belive it was on Nov. 6. The reg was forwarded to me by the writer George Krimsky, who published an article in the Waterbury Republican American about a recent conference on the historic agricultural landscape, at which I spoke.

(4) This fall, an Associated Press feature story by Stephanie Reitz circulated widely in many New England and some national newspapers. The citation I have on my desk is titled “N.E.’s stout stone walls no match for thieves: Groups race to save an icon.” in the Sunday Boston Globe.


I am in the process of finalizing a working taxonomy for stone walls. This fall I completed a project with Barbara Donahue for John Milner Associates of Littleton, MA for a Cultural Resource Management Survey in and north of Saugus, MA. In October, we tried out the taxonomy with the staff and visiting scientists at Harvard Forest, in Petershsham, MA.


This September, Kevin Thorson (my son, home from college) manufactured twenty additional teaching kits for the Stone Wall Secrets educational plan, as pictured on the web site. He also made twenty “math sticks,” which are like simple transits, used to map walls as outdoor math exercises.

The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History (Univesity of Connecticut) finished its first permanent exhibit. The lead to the exhibit is a stone wall.


The schedule of public talks continues, and will be updated soon.

Thanks for helping the investigation and conservation of New England stone walls.

Robert M. Thorson


October 17, 2007, REQUEST FOR PHOTOS: A documentary film company named Illusion Films is producing a feature documentary on the book Stone by Stone. The producer is looking for high-quality digital images of Irish Walls, which can be used as backdrop scenes (presumably without extra cost). Contact Robert M Thorson if you are interested in helping.

October 17, 2007: COMPILING CONTACT LIST. A student workstudy named Joseph Armington is helping me to compile the list of those who have expressed an interest in the SWI. We will convert this to a list serve, then add the next several hundred people who have contacted us.

October 3, 2007: TEACHING ROCK KITS AND STONE WALL MEASURING STICKS: Kevin Thorson and Robert Thorson, manufactured 20 kits to accompany the illustrated children’s book Stone Wall Secrets and delivered them to the Windham (CT) school district, which will place them in schools throughout eastern CT. Contact Ann Anderberg at the Windham School District for more information.

September 15, 2007 – TAXONOMY UPDATE: Professor Thorson has just posted the descriptive text and the list for a stone wall taxonomy. It’s off the Resources, Three books by Professor Thorson, Exploring Stone Walls Links athttp://www.stonewall.uconn.edu/Classification.htm

September 14, 2007: SPEAKING SCHEDULE. Talks by Professor Thorson listed under calendar of events. Some are incomplete, with details to follow.

September 13, 2007: NEW EMPLOYEE. We have a new work-study employee named Joe Armington who will be updating the List Serve. You will get a newsletter within a month.

August 7, 2007: ALMOST BACK. Early September the coordinator and possibly with student help, will be upgrading this site. Please be patient till then.

Late July-Early August, 2007: ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY. Writer Stephanie Reitz and Photographer Jessica Hill of the Associated Press filed a feature story on stone wall conservation that was picked up by newspapers throughout the region and beyond. The version for the Hartford Courant was published on Monday July 30, page B5 with the title “A New Goal: Making Sure Stones are Left Unturned,” and with a pullout “New England’s historic stone walls are disappearing piece by hand-laid piece, but new efforts are underway to preserve them.”

July 5, 2007. GOOD FENCES. William Hubbell’s book Good Fences, A Pictorial History of New England Stone Walls won the gold medal as best hardcover non-fiction for the New England Region from the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Contrats to Bill, who collaborated with Professor Thorson on this book.

December 19, 2006: COORDINATOR ON SABBATICAL. This site will not be changed much during the next few months. We are working on a list-serve for all members. Thanks for those who have sent in your names. You aren’t missing anything yet. Those of you who have requested a program will have to be patient as well, until the plans for spring are made.


November 13: .GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION CONFERENCE. Stone walls are being put into GIS (Geographic Information Systems). That, according to many attendees at the annual NEARC (Northeast User’s Group for ARC software) at the Mystic Marriott in Groton.

October 27, 2006: ILLEGAL REMOVAL OF STONE WALLS? For several years, Prof. Thorson has used the term “strip-mining” to decscribe the excavation of old stone walls for resale as landscaping material. The SWI contacted a local attorney who could find no state regulation against this, presumably because towns regulate earth removal activities at the local level. For an example, she went to the town of Durham where two regulations address the issue (12.05.01. Excavation and Removal Permit: Removal by Permit Only):

“An excavation and removal permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission, issued under such conditions as the Commission may impose to prevent damage to adjoining property and to protect the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the community, is required for the removal of sod, peat, stone, loam, soil, clay, gravel or any other earth or mineral products from any land.”

This attorney’s opinion is that the removal of a stone wall without a permit is an illegal form of mining/quarrying/excavation. If you are concerned about a similar situation, check your local town regulations.

October 18, 2006: LIST SERVE . We are streamlining our process and soon should have a list serve for members that will make posting more convenient. Keep watching the news till then.

October 8, 2006: SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED. Professor Thorson published an op-ed titled Strip Mining History in the Connecticut Section, p. 15.

October 4, 2006: PLEASE HELP. The SWI has posted a letter from Ann Tucker Velazco (for Belmiro Rodrigues) requesting information about the oldest stone mason in CT. If you are interested and might be able to help, please contact the SWI.

Sept. 28, 2006: BE PATIENT PLEASE. The coordinator, Robert Thorson, finally admits to being overwhelmed by SWI tasks. The inbox is overstuffed, the mailing list needs compiling, and the newsletter awaits help. We will have something to an expanded member list by late October.

September 28, 2006: STONE FOUNDATION. The annual meeting of the Stone Foundation will be held September 28-October 1 in Hood River Oregon. Their mission statement is: To celebrate stone and the skillful and creative use of stone;To preserve and perpetuate the time-honored art and craft of stonework, particularly structural stonework, and to encourage and inform the resurgence of interest in it through publications, workshops, seminars, symposia, etc;To research and to communicate the history, the traditions and the culture of stonework;To foster an international community of stonemasons;To serve as a resource by means of which information and experience are shared;To provide training opportunities;To educate stonemasons, both professional and aspiring, architects, contractors and their clients regarding sound practices and acceptable standards of workmanship.

September 26, 2006: NEW BOOK. Good Fences: A Pictorial History of New England’s Stone Walls, by William Hubbell, has just been released by DownEast Books. This regional overview with pictures from all seasons is a visual catalog of the variety that’s out there in the woods and along back roads, waiting to be discovered.

September 24, 2006: ROBERT FROST FARM. While conducting a field trip of the stone walls of Robert Frost’s Farm in Derry New Hampshire (A National Heritage Site), Robert Thorson noted that the famous poem “Mending Wall” does not describe the wall between his land and that of Napolean Guay with whom he is alleged to have walked the line. Rather, the precariously balanced “balls” and “loaves” he describes are from the wall on the opposite side of the pasture behind the house, where the soil is different.

September 21, 2006: EDUCATION. The SWI K-12 curriculum goes national. The Digital Library for Earth Science Education (DLESE) has selected 26 of the web links for the SWI’s Educational program to be hosted on a national server for earth science education. Each link contains an introduction written by DLESE staff and which help facilitate navigation. The sites were selected after review by a panel (jury). Congrats to co-investigators David Moss and Wendy Glenn and the teachers who helped us prepare this curriculum.

June 27, 2006: BUILDING WALLS. New Section of Web Site Building Stone Walls. For years, people have been asking for my advice on how to build walls. Since I’m not a stone mason, I didn’t dare to offer any suggestions. Now I can, thanks to a pamphlet printed by Carl Dill. There are separate sections for Getting Stone, Building Walls, and giving stone that Time Tarnished Look. Click Here for Building Stone Walls.

June 27, 2007: End of Spring Lecture Season. The season will close with a teacher’s workshop at Yale-Peabody. This web site will be available, but not upgraded until Mid July, 2006.

June 10, 2006 (Rain Date June 11): Upcoming talk and walk at Rose Farm. This is an all-afternoon affair, a chance to visit Revolutiionary era walls (and others) at Rochembeau’s Fifith Encampment,. See events Calendar under programs.

March 27, 2006: The Sunday New York Times (Connecticut Section), dated March 26, 2006, carried a cover story written by Elizabeth Maker about disappearing stone walls . This has been a critical issue for the Stone Wall Initiative since it was formed in early 2002. Her article features the recent action by Harwinton, Connecticut, which passed a law regulating any modifications to stone walls on town roads. We commend the author for her balanced coverage for those who mine walls and those who seek to prevent such mining. We also commend the Town of Harwinton for its action.

March 15, 2006: We mailed out 128 packets from the Museum of Natural History including a cover letter and four articles. All went to “Designated Town Official (Selectman/Planner/Mayor/Conservation) in Connecticut towns.

March 1, 2006: Here is a good example of stone wall management at the town level. Click Here for Harwinton.


February 28, 2006: Encouraged by the bold conservation example from Harwinton, CT, I have put together a package of materials for town official and planners regarding stone wall ordinances and regulations. Click here for the cover letter. Contact the SWI for the remainder.

February 28, 2006: The national magazine This Old House, has featured the work of the SWI in its March 2006 issue, now available on newsstands. The article on page 24 of the magazine, features four photos and accurately describes the tradeoffs between what they call “salvaged stone” architecture and strip mining of old walls.

January 19, 2006: Website was updated and repaired, especially fix broken links under Teacher’s Reference (for Stone Wall Secrets). If you’ve had trouble with this in the past, it is not fixed, and loaded with paintings by Gus Moore. Please let me know when you find broken links.

January 19, 2006: Member’s Gallery. We are building a page to host photos and comments sent to me by members. Check it out.

December, 2006: Courtesy of Alex Babbidge, the SWI received the full text of a speech given in December 1971 by Homer Babbidge, the beloved former president of the University of Connecticut. His views were surprisingly similar to those published more than thirty years later by Professor Thorson, in Stone by Stone, 2002.

Friday, December 9, 2005 : The New York Times carried an Associated Press Story about what is arguably the most important buried stone wall in the northeast. While digging a subway tunnel, workers encountered an old, square-cut stone wall corner ten feet below the surface at Battery Park, on Manhattan Island. At the moment, the best guess is that it was built as part of a fort for harbor defense, perhaps by the Dutch EAst India Co, which founded New Amsterdam in 1623. The story was first noticed by us on Friday, December 9, 2005.


November 19, 2005: Letter to Members and Wall Enthusiasts

November 18, 2005: The National Edition of today’s New York Times is carrying a two-page spread in its Escapes section, consisting of of color photos and text by Gary Santionelli that follows the formula for stone wall travel laid out in Exploring Stone Walls. The author visits Stonington, CT and Newport and Little Compton RI, sleuthing out their histories along the way. This is a tremendous boost to stone wall travel that we hope will be noticed by the engine of the culture-tourism economy.

November 18, 2005: This month’s Newsletter of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History reprints the epilogue of Exploring Stone Walls (courtesy of Walker & Co), which illustrates why walls are integral to landscape processes, physical, climatic, and ecological. It also highlights three walls in the state — Farmington, West Hartford, and Mansfield Center.

November 17, 2005: Professor Thorson just finished reviewing an upcoming book by photographer William Hubbell on New England Stone Walls that will soon be published. Watch for it.

November 17, 2005: The SWI received an extraordinary document, the first of its kind known to the author. Mary Everett has produced A Preliminary Handbook for the Preservation of New England’s Dry Stone Walls (WhyNaughtPress, 2005). It was her Master’s Project for the Department of Landscape Architecure & Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), directed by Professor Ethan Carr. You can contact Mary Everett by email.

November 1, 2005: The brand new Encyclopedia of New England: The Culture and History of an American Region, carries an entry on stone walls by J. Ritchie Garrison (p. 56-57), which is an excellent, citable, one page scholarly source.Professor Thorson also has an entry there, the first-ever on geology. Its defining quote is “The Soul of New England perches on a rock.” (p. 567-569).

October 14, 2005: Just today we learned that Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls has sold out its first printing within the first six months. The second printing will be available October 31, 2005.

October 14, 2005: The SWI now has two staff, thanks to student work study . They are organizing the mess that has built up over the years. If you wrote a letter and it’s not answered…just wait.

October 14, 2005: The SWI will soon begin a project with Connecticut College. There, they have mapped approximately 13 miles of stone walls in their protected Arboretum. Professor Thorson and volunteers will work with professors, staff, and students toinvestigate the pattern of stone walls on the landscape, the relationship to land use, and to the forest ecology.

October 14: 2005: (repeat of June 3, 2005): The Shaker Barn Foundation seen on May 31 by Robert Thorson in Harvard, Massachusetts was so interesting, he just had to take a picture and post in on the web.

October 14, 2005: The First Newsletter was sent out, thanks to Meghan. If you expected but did not get one, please use the contact page to reach us.

June 27, 2005: A review of Exploring Stone Walls by Don McGiver. is posted. Don is an environmental planner for the Town of Concord, MA and a member of the Littleton Conservation Trust. He directs his review principally to others with a responsibility for managing the historic heritage landscape. Click here to read the review.

June 24, 2005: SWI Coordinator Robert M. Thorson presented his last event of the spring season for the Naromi Land Trust in Sherman, Connecticut. Just for fun, you should know that Naromi is short for NAROMIYOCKNOWHUSUNKATANKSHUNK Brook, the namesake for the trust.

June 1, 2005: Recently there was an NPR interview describing that the most famous stone wall in the world — you guessed it, theGreat Wall of China — is being degraded and partially dismantled by localized development.

May 25, 2005: Perhaps you’ve noticed. The SWI website is under a massive construction project to incorporate the new curricula for kids of all ages. .

May 25, 2005: The stone wall learning center just had its first two visits by school age kids. The first was the Monetssori School of Greater Hartford who brought rocks for me to identify.

April 6, 2005: Strip Mining: The Dark Side of the Stone Trade. This is my response to a letter soliciting the sale of interior stone walls.

March 30, 2005: Posted a list of key terms used in stone wall science. For definitions, rever to the book, Exploring Stone Walls.

March 30, 2005: I repaired the page Ten Great Walls.

March 16, 2005: Posted link to Monterey Masonry, a high-end masonry business in Sheffield, MA,in which stonework is done with the utmost care and quality under the supervision of master mason, Mark Mendel.

March 9, 2005: Change of address to Connecticut State Museum of Natural History finalized on the Menu link “contacts” above. Please send all stonewall email to stonewall.uconn.edu. Use the SWI phone number at 860-486-6198. The mailing address is Stone Wall Initiative, CSMNH, 2019 Hillside Road, Campus Box 1023, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-1023

February 29: The conservation commission from Tiverton Rhode Island allowed us to post their draft ordinance for stone wall preservation(.pdf)

February 17: A complete hierarchical list of stone objects based on Domain, class, family, type, subtype, and variant is now attached. For an explanation of the list, refer to Chapter 9 of Exploring Stone Walls.

Feburary 16: Overflow crowd at the UConn Co-op for the publication party for Exploring Stone Walls.

Feburary 13 : Cover article in Northeast Magazine in The Hartford Courant.

February 12 : We have started the process of posting photos sent to the SWI. They are sumbitted for a variety of reasons: to get help identifying a wall; to share with others; or to contribute a fine example.

February 11 : A landscape lament for the loss of stone walls. Published by the Winter 2005 issue of Connecticut Woodlands, the magazine of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Read the Essay on Losing Stone Walls (.pdf)

February 11 : Hundreds of correspondents have become members, simply by writing a letter. This is a sampler of correspondence, ranging from turtle migrations, stealing walls, regulating them, painting them with milk, contacting the government, and quoting someone special.

February 11 : A new photographer is featured, as well as several internet sites from the appendix of Exploring Stone Walls are now posted.

February 10 : We created a link to supplement to Exploring Stone Walls that includes three things: color versions of the most important walls; color versions of the maps used to identify stone wall provinces, and an addendum to the taxonomy for stone objects that are not walls.

February 9Letter to Members and Wall Enthusiasts

February 9: Thorson posted a photo gallery of Ten Great Walls to accompany a February 13 feature story by the Hartford Courant.

February 8: First published review of Exploring Stone Walls (that I am aware of). “It’s only natural — stone walling.” by Steven Slosberg, The New London Day, Sunday, February 6, Region, Page D1.

February 8: Physically, we moved the SWI to the Office of State Archaeology in the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, Horsebarn Hill Campus. [read more]

February 4: Exploring Stone Walls arrives in office. They look great!

January 26: Publication of article in Connecticut Woodlands Magazine.

January 15 2005: Link posted to keynote speech for Connecticut Science Educator’s Professional Development Day. [read more]

Dec 31 : School Programs
Classroom enrichment and Teacher Professional Development Programs are now available.
[read more]

Dec 30 : Blogging Stone Walls
Check out David Sucher’s Dec. 19 posting of the SWI homepage at City Comforts

Dec. 22 : Managing Stone Walls
Though Robert Thorson has been speaking about this for months, he finally posted specific recommendations for stone wall management on this link. This was done to accompany publication of a case study on stone-wall destruction published in the Hartford Courant’s Commentary section titled PLACE, on Sunday December 19. [read more]

Dec. 22 : Mapping Stone Walls
Color versions of the maps from Exploring Stone Walls. Used for understanding geographic variation in fieldstone walls. [read more]

Dec 18 : Publication Party for Exploring Stone Walls
A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls. It will be available in bookstores sometime in January, 2005. There is no official publication date yet, but there will be a free publication party/signing on Febrary 17, at 4:00 PM at the UCONN Co-Op Bookstore. [read more]

November – Photo Essay of Stone Walls
Jon Alden, from Westport, Massachusetts, provides us with a ink to beautiful photographs of stone walls in that town. [read more]

November – Making New Stone Look Old
Here is my not-so-secret formula for giving walls that “stone-washed” look as fast as possible. It’s based totally on theory rather than experience. Several folks are testing it to see if it works. If you have a better idea, let me know.
[read more]

Stealing Stone Walls 
Hot Rocks: Stone Walls Disappear Across the Region; State Police Arrest Waterford man: Sunday Feature Story by By David Collins, (Staff Columnist) October 31, 2004 
[read more]