Belvidere Park residents had fun yesterday placing a new stone bench near the Vale Street entrance. The project is funded by a neighborhood improvement program through the City of Raleigh. The stone bench is the next step in lengthy process which began with the construction of new stone columns at the main entrance to Dennis Avenue.
The bench is a seat with a past. The nearly twelve hundred pound block of stone is antique granite reclaimed from Central Prison in Raleigh. Central Prison was built in the late 1800's with gneiss (known locally as Old Wake County granite) that was quarried just outside the east wall. Here's an old photo of what must have been an imposing sight in 19th century Raleigh.
An interesting bit of trivia was found on the NC Highway Historical Marker Program website. Among the master stonemasons hired to aid the construction was W.O. Wolfe, father of Asheville native and novelist Thomas Wolfe. You know - the guy who said you can't go home again.
A couple of things point to the stone's history. You can see that it has small drill marks along the edge. Later on, stoneworkers used larger drills to quarry stone. Also, it was hand-faced with a point chisel to create a flat surface on three sides, making it ideal for carved lettering and seating today.
The stone bench, set under a mature magnolia tree, will be a place for residents to pause and appreciate the wonderfully fragrant blooms of a southern favorite in early summer. (Pictured left to right: Mike Baker, Joe Valles, Jamie Bort and Adam Skelding)
The landscaping plan around the main entrance calls for a variety of native plant species. Drought-resistant trees, shrubs and perennial flowers were chosen by the designer for ease of maintenance and water conservation. Planting, unfortunately, has been delayed until the fall.
The recent tornadoes which crashed through Raleigh and across the South have sidetracked the staff who handle the disbursement of the City's grant money. The weather gurus should assign names to deadly tornadoes like they do with hurricanes. A force so destructive shouldn't be allowed to hide behind such a generic weather description.
Our suggestion: "Helen" with the emphasis on "hell." Let's hope that all the families who lost their homes can go home again very soon.
Your comments are welcome below.
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Originally posted May 9, 2011