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The purpose of the stone wall workshop was to provide hands-on training for park staff, Ellsworth volunteers and others interested in learning to build and repair drystone walls. The intent was to create a cadre of trained personnel to continue work at the gardens and also increase the availability of trained workers for future projects in the park or other historic sites in the country with similar resources. Voyageurs acquired funding through grants and donations to bring master stonemason Neil Rippingale of the Dry Stone Conservancy to the park to teach the workshop. A few walls required complete dismantling, some required disassembly of short segments to repair collapsed sections, other walls required only removal of the top layer of rocks or the top layer and the course below. Historic photographs were used when available to replicate the original appearance of the wall as closely as possible. Participants had the opportunity to work on different wall types including retaining, free-standing and double-boulder. The group of seven trainees repaired 617 linear feet of wall during the week, exceeding the estimated 150 linear feet of repairs. An optional stone wall construction day was offered to trainees at an off- site location to reinforce their understanding of the principles of drylaid stone construction. Four trainees constructed a 4’x15’ section of dry-stacked stone wall during this session (see photographs in Appendix C).

This workshop was made possible through Grant MT-2210-06-NC-09 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

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3 Responses to Stone Wall Repair Workshop: Ellsworth Rock Gardens (2007-08)

  1. Joe says:


    I am repairing an old stone ice house built around 1900. What do you recommend the sand, lime, cement mixture (ratio) to be? The stone house is located in the Shenandoah Valley, VA. Any thoughts?

    Thanks, Joe

  2. eileen jordan says:

    question…west point area, old homes with boulders in retaining walls, falling big rocks on neighbors property. Are tree roots causing any problem for the falling of the rocks? The wall is 6 feet tall. my neighbor wants me to kill all the trees. thanks for an answer.

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