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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

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Archive for the ‘Crafting Connecticut Field Stone’ Category


Crafting New England Field Stone

Monday, December 17th, 2012

The Hill-stead Museum of Farmington Ct, pictured bellow, is a National Landmark an a must stop for thousands of visitors touring the Connecticut Art Trail. The 1901, 33,000 square foot house is filled with art and antiques. Collections include works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and James Whistler. There is an admission charge to see the art and antiques, but my favorite attractions on this magnificent estate are free. These include over 3 miles of crafted pure basalt, trap rock walls, and woodland trails, on which the Blunt family has taken many hikes.

 Basalt, also known in this area as trap rock, is a gray to black rock that formed Earth’s most primitive crust. The Hill-stead  sits on a trap rock ridge overlooking the Farmington Valley. Most of the walls on the site, particularly those paralleling the entry walk are constructed  almost entirely of  basalt boulders collected from the property and railroad building sites.

Below is a photo of Hill-stead’s Sunken Garden. It is home to a very popular poetry and music festival, which hosts poetry readings and music events from June Through July. The garden is surrounded by 8 foot stone walls,constructed with stone gathered from the property.

Located on private property in West Hartford Connecticut. This ornate red Jurassic sandstone wall with a mortared top. is very visible from the street, which is a busy commuter rout into Hartford from the western suburbs.

Below is the entrance to the grotto of  Lourdes Of Litchfield. In 1954 students of the Monfort Missionaries decided to construct a replica  of the famous religious grotto in Lourdes France. Using a post card picture of the original grotto tacked to a pine tree, they fashioned this replica from field stone gathered form their fields at the 175 acre seminary. The the grotto was built  by two Italian stone masons with the help local volunteers. Litchfield is an iconic village of prominent hills in the heart of northwestern Connecticut. It is a till covered rolling  landscape with a wealth of well built stone walls composed a mixture of granite, mudrock (a type of sedimentary rock like shale and slate). The shrine covers 35 acres of the seminary grounds, and the grotto, the bridge and the stream below are  near exact replicas of the ones at the shrine in France. The  seminary are open 365 days a year. There are no gates to restrict visitor access to all exhibits, and admission fee is. During the winter months there are few visitors. On my visit, last week, I had the entire 175 acres to myself. On most days in the spring, summer and fall she shrine will have hundreds of visitors throughout the day and evening.

This mixed stone archway is the entrance to the grotto.

A close look at precision stone craftsmanship.

This bell is rung to alert visitors that guided tour of the seminary is about to start.



In the coming months we will visit and photograph some of New England’s more famous stone walls like Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, and  Robert Frost’s mending wall in Derry New Hampshire.



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