Last week it was reported that a circle of stone pillars in the Town of Ulster believed by some to have been built in prehistoric times was more likely to have been erected in the mid-20th century. This week, town officials revealed “Fauxhenge” had been even newer than they thought.
A request for the extension of site plan approval for a retail plaza in the Town of Ulster during a meeting held February 15 brought the issue to the fore. Kingwood Park Plaza is 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.
Town supervisor James E. Quigley, III described it as resembling Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, believed to have been constructed somewhere between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C. In mid-February, Quigley said he’d been told by “two attorneys and a former town supervisor” that the structure was built approximately 60 years ago by former town attorney Lou DiDonna “as a park to take his girlfriend to.”
This week, Quigley said further research indicated the structure was more likely built in the 1990s. “I have aerial photographs of the property from 1979 from the town engineer: There were no rocks there,” he said. “And then after I got that map, I said, wait a second, there’s a map outside the town clerk’s office on the wall, an aerial photograph from approximately 1982. There were no rocks. In talking around town I’m getting feedback that says he did it in the early Nineties. So at the end of the day, it’s not 50 or 60 years old. It’s 25 years old.”
Quigley said some local residents believed the structure was prehistoric and because it held significant historic and cultural value should therefore be protected.
One woman had started a Facebook petition to save the circle of stones. “I explained it to her,” Quigley said. “I said, ‘This is not what you’re purporting it to be on Facebook, would you please remove the Facebook post?’ And she did.”
Another call came from a local man who recalled playing on the stones as a child. “And as we talked it through and I asked him to establish a timeline,” Quigley said. “I got to the point where we agreed on a range of time where he would have been playing there, which happened to be the mid-Seventies. And I said, ‘What would you say if I showed you an aerial photograph that proves the rocks were not there in 1979?’”
Quigley said he believed the matter has finally been settled, even if some area residents may not be as sure. Plans for hire an archaeologist from SUNY New Paltz to review the structure were canceled in light of the new information, and the property owner has since removed the stone pillars. Fauxhenge is no more.
“Citizens are asking me to protect the rocks,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s a matter of private property rights. It is not a culturally significant artifact. So the owner has removed them.”