Fauxhenge: Mystery of stone structure behind Five Guys solved

(Google Maps)

A request for the extension of site plan approval for a retail plaza in the Town of Ulster last week saw town officials reveal that what some local residents believe is a prehistoric circle of stone pillars is more Fauxhenge than Stonehenge — likely to have been erected in the mid-20th century.

On the relatively slender agenda for a Town Board meeting held on Thursday, February 15 was the request for the extension of site plan approval for Kingwood Park Plaza, a 14,400-square foot retail building proposed by developer Pasquale Iovieno which would also include ancillary driveways and 58 on-site parking spaces. The parcel at 1204 Ulster Avenue is directly behind Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and on that property is the circle of stone pillars roughly 75-feet in circumference described by Town Supervisor James E. Quigley, III as resembling Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, believed to have been constructed somewhere between 3000-2000 B.C.E.

According to Quigley, Ulster’s take on the venerable English edifice is decidedly more contemporary, seemingly having been built not by Druids nor by Native Americans, but by former town attorney Lou DiDonna.


“At 5 this evening I received a phone call from a citizen of the Town of Ulster asking me what the Ulster Town Board was going to do to protect the prehistoric stone monument that is on the site of the project,” Quigley said. “According to the tax map parcel views of the County of Ulster, the aerial views show a stone arrangement that looks like Stonehenge. So I was asked what the town is going to do to protect it. I made a commitment to check it out and call back the resident, and within 10 minutes I had three statements from two attorneys and a former town supervisor, who all had personal knowledge, that the structure was constructed approximately 60 years ago by the property owner as a park to take his girlfriend to. I state this because I want it clear that there is no historic structure there.”

Workers performing a partial restoration of Stonehenge in 1901. Unlike a similar theory regarding the ruin’s origin, the circle of stone pillars in the Town of Ulster was verified to have been erected in the mid-20th century.

Quigley said the initial approval process for the proposed retail project included a review of the state’s historic structure database, which does not include anything of note on the property. Still, the town board agreed to hire an archaeologist from SUNY New Paltz to review the structure, though it was unclear how much it might cost. Quigley said he expected it wouldn’t amount to much.

“I can’t believe it’s more than two hours’ worth of his time to come up … take a look at it and write a report,” Quigley said.

The area is now under construction

There are 2 comments

  1. Pete Mack

    Lou DiDonna was my neighbor on Saint James Street. Over the course of my 11 years in Kingston, I got to know a man well versed not only as a lawyer, but also a fan of the arts, architecture, and history. He showed me this park one day where he often took his girlfriend.

    There is a bronze plaque embedded in the stone memorializing his girlfriend after her death from cancer. He hoped the park would be a place where others could come to relax, wander, or enjoy a bit of peace amidst all the commercialization.

    As the saying goes, “nothing last forever except natural stone and old Ford pickups”. In Ulster County, even natural stone doesn’t last! It’s a shame how eager everyone is to destroy local history and compromise our principles in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

  2. Janet McBride

    Very sad indeed that we can’t just let things be. One has no idea of what the act of destruction can have upon such a powerful ancient symbol whether they are here in Kingston NY or in England. It’s not about the mid 20th century history in Ulster County started by Mr. DiDonna and his family. These stones represent a historical icon and the destruction of such objects speak to not just the destruction of those immediately living within these monuments but of entire generations. For some, those stones represented what was referred to as “The God’s Woods” and were visited regularly. Now, they are no longer and, as Pete Mack reported, all “in pursuit of the almighty dollar”. Karma………

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