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October 6, 2011

Couple aim to preserve history of 19th century quarry

(Continued)

WILLSBORO — Lewis also built skiffs, as well as the General Grant, which was similar to 19th-century schooner replica the Lois McClure.

The Clarks also ran five farms and a woodlot that were instrumental in supporting the family.

OLD ELM

Old Elm, a blue-limestone house, sits across the road from the quarry property. Orrin Clark, father to Solomon and Lewis, bartered $200 worth of lime to have it constructed.

Today, rotting floors make it uninhabitable, though the Hales recently had its exterior re-mortared.

NON-PROFIT PLANNED

The Hales are setting up a non-profit foundation to take over the Clark property. Their own roots are so embedded in the site that they have set aside a small plot for their burial so they can remain on the land.

"We have to save all of this somewhere and would prefer to have everything stay in Willsboro," said Bruce. "The documents and artifacts are the real treasures, much more so than the buildings. If we could only pick one thing (to preserve), it would be the documents."

An application is being made to create a Historic District.

Plans are also under way to register the garden — which the Hales have planted through information gleaned from records to replicate the Clarks' garden — with the Smithsonian Institution.

"Our long-term dream is to house the documents in a research center, which will be available to scholars and those interested in local history," Darcey said. "Perhaps it will be kept in the stone house (Old Elm). It will have a caretaker or curator.

"The collection is both scholarly but oh so human. There is nothing dull or dry about it. It's so alive."     &boldtext;E-mail Alvin Reiner at: rondackrambler@yahoo.com

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