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Sunday, May 17th, Our Amazing Stone Walls: What They Are and Where They Are

posted May 10, 2015, 5:38 PM by Julie Johnston   [ updated May 10, 2015, 5:42 PM ]
Please join us for an illustrated talk by Sylvia Reiss who offers a fresh look at some of our 
most historic structures.  Doors open at 4; presentation is at 5.  Wine and cheese reception before and after the talk.  

Members free; non-members, $10 contribution.

They still go about at large throughout Darien, the stone walls: along roadsides, far into the woods, up hillsides, across people's back yards and between their houses.  These old dry stone walls, in varying stages of decay or repair, are the signature archaeological legacy of Darien and of New England itself.  Our stone walls delineate and define northeastern America as surely as the Appian Way says Italy or the Great Wall says China.  

Darien is fortunate to have, within its 23.4 square miles, many linear miles of these walls, which characterize the town's agrarian centuries. This history, the story of millions of fieldstones, tossed, stacked, laid; of single walls, double walls capped or coped; of rare walls and mysteries, is the topic of Sylvia Reiss's presentation, "Our Amazing Stone Walls, What They Are And Where They Are," Sunday, May 17th, at 5 p.m. at the Darien Historical Society, 45 Old King's Highway North. 

Mrs. Reiss is a former teacher, retired antiques dealer, past president of the Antiques Council, and tag-along hobby historian along with husband Ken Reiss, Darien Historical Society's Historian. 

On display for the program to supplement Mrs. Reiss's images and illustrations, will be several original documents, one as early as 1793, owned by the Society, which refer to the building or repair of local stone walls.  They are agreements to pay men and boys pennies per day for the "digging," "carting," "building" of stone walls, with a bonus of liquor at the end of a day's work.  These papers are truly rare and revealing  (some subscribers' and some workers' names are listed), because the vast majority of New England's walls are completely silent as to their origins. 

Who did create those hundreds of thousands of walls, by hand, one 
stone at a time, and why?  Where did the millions of stones, grudgingly referred to as New England potatoes by farmers, come from and why?