photo of Andrew Pighills: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Here is an excerpt from the article:
"Andrew Pighills has devoted much of his life to stone walls. He began building them as a boy, on his father’s farm in the Yorkshire Dales, in north England. Now, at 56, he is the North American representative of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain, a group dedicated to the art and preservation of dry laid stone.
“A dry stone wall is a wall built without mortar,” he said. Unlike a mortared wall, which those in his profession refer to as a “wet wall,” he said, “only two things hold a dry stone wall together: gravity and friction.”
Mr. Pighills, who lives in southeast Connecticut, creates landscapes of garden and stone for private and public clients and teaches walling at workshops throughout New England. We spoke with him about his work.
Why did you start building stone walls?
I am the son of a farmer, and I had to build walls to retain the stock on the property. And having had to do it, I found that not only was I good at it, but I also enjoyed it.
What brought you to this country?
I came over to visit a friend, literally for a couple of weeks, and he said, “Oh, no, you should stay at least a month or more.” So I asked him if he knew anybody who might like some stonework done, to pay my way, and he put me through to a gentleman who had quite a large property. I did maybe a week’s work for him. He invited me back the following year to repair all the walls on his property, and while I was there I met my now-wife and eventually moved over here to live full time.
You hold workshops in New England, where there are lots of stone walls. Why is that?
The original walls were nothing more than a heap of stone that was cleared from the land so farmers could plant; they’re what I call clearance walls. Then they became boundaries. Farmers would build a little better than clearance walls to retain the stock, and then, as farming became more profitable and farmers had a little more time — it was probably second or third generation before they got to this stage — they started building actual walls. If you walk through the woods in New England, you will see all three types.
Victoria Meyers architect (hMa) presents two views of hMa's Holley House in Garrison, New York, incorporating an existing dry stone wall into its minimalist tableau. The house features two stone landscape walls that grow out of the ground plane. To either side of this three-dimensional occupied wall, pavilions project into the landscape. The house is designed as an atmosphere of nature: the ancient stone wall in the landscape becomes a centering device for dwelling.
stone wall at Holley House click here to see more photos of Holley House on hanrahanmeyers.com