Amish carpenters build North Stonington pavilion in less than six hours

North Stonington — Having arrived at 6:30 a.m. after an hours-long drive from central Pennsylvania, five Amish carpenters constructed a pavilion at Hewitt Farm in less than six hours Monday, piecing together pre-cut and pressure-treated wood planks stained with beeswax.

The pavilion will provide visitors to the property's nature trails and bucolic outing spaces with much needed shade, Hewitt Farm Committee Chairman Ed Harasimowitz said.

“This is just the way I envisioned it. This is what I wanted to see,” he said, looking over the pine-wood pavilion, an A-frame structure. “This offers people a way to get out of the sun, into the shade, to have a place to picnic.”

Located off Route 2, the 104-acre Hewitt Farm was acquired by the town from Mystic Seaport Museum in 2008. It has trails and community gardens, as well as space for “picnicking, nature study, bird watching, dog walking,” said William Ricker, who has volunteered with the Hewitt Farm Committee over the last year to help with the pavilion.

“Every single night there are a half-dozen folks here with their dogs, just enjoying the run, letting them go,” he said. "It offers not only North Stonington residents, but everyone, what a beautiful park can offer."

Ricker said a 99-year deed restriction placed on the property by former owner Flora Hewitt, according to The Day's archives, prevents the town from using the property as, say, “a hospital site, a school site. We can’t build athletic fields on it.”

“It’s going to stay natural,” Ricker said, detailing the hayfields, forested areas, streams and pond that also make up the farm. “This is a beautiful agricultural community and it will stay that way, and the Hewitt Farm contributes to that whole atmosphere.”

He said he decided to offer his time and effort to help the Hewitt Farm Committee, which is responsible for maintaining the farm and promoting its recreational use, find a way to construct a pavilion, an idea tossed around for the last several years.

"I told the committee, 'You want a pavilion? I’ll volunteer and do the work,'” said Ricker, a former first selectman. “I just do things for the town.”

Both the Republican and Democratic town committees supported the effort, organizing a party at the farm last summer to raise money. Ricker said the $3,600 raised, in combination with committee funds, was used to construct a concrete pad for the pavilion last August.

Ricker said he and Harasimowitz then researched contractors and conducted an informal bidding process, eventually finding the Amish builders of Pine Creek Structure.

Besides offering the low price of $17,300 — “We got bids as high as $85,000,” Ricker said — Pine Creek Structure proposed the most “aesthetically pleasing” pavilion design. Funding came from committee funds and $11,000 from the Parks and Recreation Commission, as well as grants and private donations, Ricker and Harasimowitz said.

“To be able to do this for the town of North Stonington, I am overwhelmed,” Ricker said. “It’s been a whole year of working on this and hundreds of hours, and to see this up and completed in five hours, it’s amazing, just amazing.”

“This is now available for the town to use forever.”

m.biekert@theday.com

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