Now that the back hoes, dump trucks, and blasting equipment are not tearing up the driveway with reckless abandon, work has begun to repair the havoc wreaked on the steep front drive to Howlets. In addition to repairs, owners David and Heather wanted to extend the driveway a bit closer to the mud room entrance door so the schlep from car to house is not such a trek. A stone path from the driveway to the mud room is also in the mix. With an arm full of groceries, the steep slope of the house’s front yard becomes more obvious with each laborious step. The existing driveway is crushed stone and is perfect for the setting of Howlets against sea and stone. A blacktop driveway would undoubtedly be more practical for snow plowing and run off, but would give the place a “Housewives of New Jersey” look. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made for aesthetics. Think of those uncomfortable but dressy knock out shoes that you wear to special occasions only.

Tread on me

Stone driveways are also permeable and act as natural filters for the oil and other pollutants from cars. The residue seeps into the ground as opposed to running down blacktop into street storm drains and then into the nearby ocean.

The old driveway has been slightly regraded in problem spots and re-dressed with roadpack — a combination of soil, crushed stone and stone dust. The new extension to the driveway is at the front yard’s steepest incline and consequently presents some issues. Because of the risk of erosion, crushed stone on this portion of the driveway would not have worked well. Instead, we are installing a “tire track” driveway, composed of two strips of stone pavers with roadpack in between. The tire track design fits the home’s casual summer community vibe perfectly. Dave McGibbon, a local stone mason, is sourcing the stone from a local quarry, choosing the pieces he wants for this job, splitting and laying the stone on site. All of this is done by him and him alone. He fits all of the pieces together like a recipe puzzle for a harmonious blend of stone soup. Watching him work is like watching a painter create a painting. It is true artistry and one that thankfully is still being practiced on Cape Ann. Dave McGibbon is one of the best kept secrets on Cape Ann. He has re-built sea walls so this job is no doubt child’s play for him. However, he carefully considers each gentle turn and slope of the new driveway extension both for aesthetics and for water and snow runoff.

One hundred years ago, the original owner Ellen Day Hale hired local stone masons to quarry stone on site and build Howlets. How great that, so many years later, David and Heather continue to utilize the local material for which Rockport is named.

Click on any photo to enlarge

Dual drive

Hammer on stone

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