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Preserving New England’s stone walls

Archaeologists, communities and lawmakers are fighting to protect New England’s old stone walls, which for generations have stood as icons to forebears’ gritty resolve against an inhospitable terrain.

“We’re turning archaeology into architecture,” he warns of the growing practice of contractors using the rock of historic walls to decorate new homes. “Take a Chippendale piece of furniture and use the wood to make something else. Have you lost anything? I say you have.”

Several Rhode Island communities are studying a three-year-old ordinance in Smithfield that prohibits property owners from removing or destroying their stone walls. Smithfield has softened the loss of property rights by offering a $5,000 tax assessment credit for those who keep their stone walls in good shape.

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