Stone Craft

2015-12

PEOPLE | CULTURE | HAPPENINGS trending Two stone bridges sit tranquilly amid the vast fairways at Wilmington Municipal Golf Course. The stone design complements and stands out in the greens and creek that surround it, adding character to the landscape. Golf carts quietly drive across the solid structures with no hint of disturbance. Everything seems simple and relaxing here, except for the occasional “fore” warning in the background. They could be any bridges on any course anywhere, installed to help golfers get their carts over ditches after they’ve cleared them with their clubs. But with closer examination it’s clear there’s something different about these structures. They are unique, especially in the way they are supported and standing. They are completely dry-stone structures, meaning there’s no mortar holding the under arch together. “Just gravity and compression,” says Doug McGraw, owner of McGraw Hardscapes and the stonemason who constructed the bridges. While working as a landscaper McGraw developed a love for stone-work and became a self-taught stonemason. He attended symposiums and workshops in places like California, Vermont and Spain sponsored Stonemason Stone Craft By McCALL REEDER Photography by ALLISON POTTER by the Stone Foundation, an organization dedicated to the craft, history and tradition of stonework. He found stone masonry is often passed down in a family, and met some masons who were 13th- or 14th-gener-ation craftsmen. McGraw says he was happy to find others who were as passionate about building as he was. He found himself increasingly drawn to ancient building techniques. When Wilmington Municipal Golf Course approached him and asked if he could construct a pair of bridges similar to the famous 700-year-old Swilcan Bridge on The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, he didn’t hesitate. “I’m not a golfer, but a golf fan,” says McGraw, who is also of Scottish descent. To start the complex process, a wooden arch was built and then covered with wedged stones. Then flat stones were placed to create the pillars and floor. Once the bridge was finished, the wooden arch was pulled out from underneath it. Two concrete abutments in each side of the bridge help gravity hold the stones together for a little added support against the 13 Doug McGraw constructed the bridge at Wilmington Municipal Golf Course using a centuries-old dry-stone technique. The bridge has no mortar, and not only can support the builder, but also fully laden golf carts. www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM


2015-12
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