In that last post, I don’t mean to imply that all veneer stone walls come from shady dealings, by any means, or that they are bad in and of themselves. I use veneer stone walls in plenty of my projects, and veneer is a valuable construction method in any number of applications. Often they are the best solution for a given site. And certainly there’s plenty of stone to go around in New England.
The cutting of larger, weathered wall stone into much smaller, weathered-face pieces is what I’m wondering about, and have no solid answers. Those smaller cut pieces can make a stunning chimney face, or interior stone wall, or, as in the case featured recently on a popular TV program, a knockout modern retaining wall backing a narrow reflecting pool. But each weathered stone taken from an old wall and cut up for one of those elements provides incentive for the removal and cutting up of the stones from other old (and still viable) walls.
On the other hand, not everyone wants the weathered look. A contractor once told me about a client for whom he had built a handsome fieldstone wall, one that he had been at great pains to use stone with nicely lichened faces. There was even a little moss on some of the stones, and because of that and its careful design, the wall looked comfortably situated in the landscape from the start. The client, who had been out of town and away from the project since approving the design, came home, saw the wall, and called his contractor. “What is this?!” he asked — “I don’t want old, used stone in my wall! I thought I was getting new stone!” The contractor shook his head as he told me the story, laughing at the idea of having to source stone that hadn’t been around for millennia….