Jun 30, 2011

Set in Stone

All over the countryside New England and much of the Northeast are some of the loveliest and historical stone walls.  Built by early American farm families using stones that heaved up from the subsoil.  The walls were used to pen animal pounds, delineate boundary lines and outline farmland crop sections.
image via WID

via New York Times
via CountrySolitude

via NY Folklore
My husband John and I have been cruising the back country of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts for many years, and I can't tell you how many times I've asked him to stop the car so I can take a picture of a stone wall.  They're all so different and unique, because each one is exceptionally one-of-a-kind.

Boston Post Road via Flickr

The Jason Russel House via Arlington Historical Society
The period from 1775 - 1825 was known as the golden age of stone wall building in the American Northeast. During this era, more stone walls were built than any other period of time. The increase of stone wall construction during this period increased the demand for stones.  And, of course, this was long before stone quarries had rocks available for purchase by the ton.  Farmers had to harvest the stones from their own soil.  And if few stones were present on his land, theft of neighbors' stones was commonplace.  For this reason, I find it so intriguing that there are so many beautiful stone walls still standing today. 

via Flickr
Taking long country drives, finding backgrounds filled with stunning countryscapes is a favorite pasttime of mine.  The best sights are those lined with stone walls.  I even hop out of the car for a photo if one is just too beautiful to pass up...

me at one of our favorite walls in Catskill farm country.  It is covered in overgrown plants and lines the most charming property which faces that happy green barn & silo behind my huge head.

Not all country estates are blessed with stone fencing hundreds of years old.  So many homeowners build stone walls to create barriers between property lines or in place of old, dilapidated walls.

Joan from For the Love of a House (hands down, the best old home renovation blog in my Google Reader!) has shown such impeccably-reported progress of their barn renovation, which included re-building some stone walls as retaining support leading up to their driveway.  See the details here.

now those are some nice stones!  image via For the Love of a House
The poet Robert Frost lived on a farm in Derry, New Hampshire where he wrote "Mending Wall" in 1914, a blank verse poem about the constant rebuilding an old stone wall season after season with his neighbor. 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
At the end of the day, Frost's stone wall neighbor quotes "Good fences make good neighbors." 
Indeed, neighbor. Indeed. 


1 comment:

for the love of a house said...

Whitney- Such great photos of stone walls (thank you for including mine; and for your kind words) I so agree, they are each individual and such works of art! Hoping you have 10 miles of your own stone walls very soon!!

happy July!

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