Stone Wall Repair, Restoration, Design and Construction

The tradition of dry-laid stone wall building in New England is fascinating.  Native people had been building various structures out of stone for ages, but farm style walls began to get built as soon as settlers started clearing woodlands to make fields suitable for farming. As the trees and vegetation were cleared, the stones buried in the soil rose to the surface to be laboriously dug out and dragged with oxen to the edges of fields and along property boundaries. Usually in the spring, everyone around the farm would help with this monumental task. The farmers, hired help, the kids, and the neighbors would all pitch in.  At first, the stones were just thrown in a long pile along these areas. Sometimes, they were thrown loosely and relatively quickly into walls. Many of these “thrown walls” are still seen around New England today.

Later, as farms got more prosperous and survival wasn’t the only goal, more care was put into the construction of the walls reflecting the pride that  the American farmers had in their farms.  During the mid 1800’s, gangs of stone wallers traveled around New England rebuilding many of the hastily built walls on people’s farms.  Most towns had laws in place regarding mandatory heights of stone walls and fencing to prevent neighbor disputes over livestock as far back as the 1600’s.

Although many of these walls are still standing tall on farms, near homes, and throughout the woodlands of New England that were once farm fields, many more have been lost. Some have fallen apart to be reclaimed by the soil, some have been broken down and used in other building projects, and many more were crushed and used for building roads around New England when stone grinding machinery was developed.

Native history, colonial history, and American agricultural history are all closely intertwined with the thousands of miles of dry-laid stone walls that remain and run throughout New England. It is my hope that awareness of the historical importance and raw beauty of these structures will lead to their preservation and appreciation, and I for one am proud to be one more person in a long line of stone wall builders, helping to preserve the stone wall legacy, one stone at a time.

Now servicing Watch Hill • Westerly • North Kingstown • Little Compton • Jamestown • Foster • East Greenwich • Block Island • South Kingstown • West Greenwich • and beyond!

The tradition of dry-laid stone wall building in New England is fascinating.  Native people had been building various structures out of stone for ages, but farm style walls began to get built as soon as settlers started clearing woodlands to make fields suitable for farming. As the trees and vegetation were cleared, the stones buried in the soil rose to the surface to be laboriously dug out and dragged with oxen to the edges of fields and along property boundaries. Usually in the spring, everyone around the farm would help with this monumental task. The farmers, their wives, hired help, the kids, and the neighbors would all pitch in.At first, the stones were just thrown in a long pile along these areas. Sometimes, they were thrown loosely and relatively quickly into walls. Many of these “thrown walls” are still seen around New England today.

Later, as farms got more prosperous and survival wasn’t the only goal, more care was put into the construction of the walls reflecting the pride that  the American farmers had in their farms.  During the mid 1800’s, gangs of stone wallers traveled around New England rebuilding many of the hastily built walls on people’s farms.  Most towns had laws in place regarding mandatory heights of stone walls and fencing to prevent neighbor disputes over livestock as far back as the 1600’s.

Although many of these walls are still standing tall on farms, near homes, and throughout the woodlands of New England that were once farm fields, many more have been lost. Some have fallen apart to be reclaimed by the soil, some have been broken down and used in other building projects, and many more were crushed and used for building roads around New England when stone grinding machinery was developed.

Native history, colonial history, and American agricultural history are all closely intertwined with the thousands of miles of dry-laid stone walls that remain and run throughout New England. It is my hope that awareness of the historical importance and raw beauty of these structures will lead to their preservation and appreciation, and I for one am proud to be one more person in a long line of stone wall builders, helping to preserve the stone wall legacy, one stone at a time.

Now servicing Watch Hill • Westerly • North Kingstown • Little Compton • Jamestown • Foster • East Greenwich • Block Island • South Kingstown • West Greenwich • and beyond!

Mike Minto is kind of a super hero.

He swooped in and saved a marriage, a friendship with neighbors, and a stone wall.

My husband decided that rebuilding our falling down stone wall would be a fun “summer” project. That summer started in May and finally (thanks to Mike) ended in late October.

We knocked the wall down (onto the neighbor’s lawn) then felt sheer panic and paralyzing overwhelm. (Or…I did anyway) My husband, myself, and the kids spent several hours hoisting boulders onto the wall and it wasn’t looking any more stable than the one that was falling down. My husband was determined, (that’s what he calls it….what I call it is frustrated and irritable) the neighbors lawn had boulders and dirt strewn across it, and the kids looked at me like, “Please save us from this insanity”

My husband had to travel for work and as soon as those back tires left the driveway I googled! And Laaaaaaa… the photo of Mike Minto(RI Stone Walls) was in front of me. All that was missing was a cape. This man hoisting a boulder (effortlessly it appeared) into place on a wall was going to save us all! And he did.

Trying to not make it completely awkward…I didn’t tell Mike my husband had no idea this was happening. But my neighbor would go over now and then and check things out and mentioned one day, “you know, I don’t think her husband knows about this.” So I had to fess up.

I would check progress everyday when I got home from work. Because I had a bit of understanding of the time and effort it took to move those stones, I was in awe. It was literally incredible how fast Mike put the wall back together. And it was looking like it would never fall apart again. Mike also found beautiful enormous rocks to use as steps. Which was something we hadn’t considered. They fit into the landscape naturally and perfectly. He also repaired a few loose steps on our patio. He did all of this in less than a month; we had a few very rainy days that halted progress a bit.

If you don’t have a stone wall, have Mike build one for you. They’re so pretty and if Mike builds it, you will have it forever. Or if you have a falling down one that needs some love, call Mike. He loves what he does. He’s excited to talk to you about his plan, keeps you updated on progress or any changes that need to be made, and is open to questions and input.

We are all so happy with our new stone wall. It’s beautiful! And the stone steps are my favorite.

MARIA B.
North Kingstown, RI
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