Opus 40 is an immense composition
of finely fitted stone,
rising in ramps and swirling terraces around pools and
trees and fountains out of the rock bed of an abandoned
bluestone quarry. It spreads out over more than six acres.
It is the product of more
thirty-seven years of a man's life. His name was Harvey
Fite. He worked alone, using his hands and traditional
quarryman's tools, while building his masterpiece: Opus
Harvey Fite was a sculptor of wood
and stone. In May of 1938 he found the perfect place
to work: an abandoned bluestone quarry in the middle
of the woods in the tiny hamlet of High Woods, N.Y He
bought this twelve-acre paradise of natural materials
from the widow of the last quarrymaster, and built his
house and studio on the eastern lip of the quarry.
In that same summer, he received an
invitation from the Carnegie Institute to do restoration
work on ancient Mayan sculpture in Copan, Honduras.
He was deeply impressed by the philosophical strength
and understanding of materials that emerged from the
art of the Maya.
The following spring he began clearing
away the rubble in his quarry; and quietly, without
even being aware of it himself at the time, Fite had
begun his Opus 40.
In May of 1976, Harvey Fite was killed
in an accidental fall onto the rocks of the quarry sculpture
to which he had devoted the last thirty-seven years
of his life. He was seventy-two years old.
There is an unfinished wall, and there
are piles of bluestone where he would have created more
ramps and terraces as he extended his design. But Opus
40 is finished, and in a way it is as complete as it
would ever have been. It was the product of Fite's ceaseless
vision, and could only have been stopped with his death.
Open Memorial Day Weekend through
Columbus Day Weekend 12 noon - 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays,
Sundays, holiday Mondays. $6 per adult, $5 students
and seniors, $3 school age children, Children under
5 free with an adult.