What is the Brownstone Quorum?
The Brownstone Quorum, Inc. is an outgrowth of an informal group of Portland residents who gathered in late 1999 following the Town's acquisition of the brownstone quarries and riverfront property. The group's goal was to provide assistance and support to the town government as they determined the ultimate use of these properties.
Three important events occurred in 1999 and 2000 that affected decisions about property use:
First, The National Park Service authorized John Monroe of the NPS Rivers and Trails Program to assist Portland in the planning. He began work with the volunteers in December 1999 on an ambitious program of information- gathering, visioning and information-sharing.
Second, in May of 2000 The Department of the Interior, declared the Portland Brownstone Quarries a National Historic Landmark. The volunteers commenced site work and presented the first Quarry Focus Day to introduce residents to their newest park. In July, they participated in a planning charrette organized by John Monroe. In October 2000, the volunteers, now known at the Brownstone Quorum, hosted the ceremony and reception dedicating the quarries as the Portland Brownstone Quarries National Historic Landmark.
Third, in October 2000, the Portland Board of Selectmen authorized the Quorum to make modifications to the properties, to use the properties for public events, and to participate in the formal design process to be funded by a $50,000 grant from the State of Connecticut. Following the action of the Board of Selectmen the Quorum began the process of becoming a non-profit corporation with 501c3 status which was completed in January 2002.
In 2007-2008, following promotion and fundraising efforts, the Quorum helped administer the design and construction of the Brownstone Quarries artifact “arch” pavilion located on Main Street.
In 2006 the Quorum’s focus shifted to the development of The Portland Riverfront Park, located at 284 Brownstone Avenue. Since then, additions to the park include a field picnic and recreation area, pavilion, stage and band shell, volleyball court, rest rooms, hiking trails; and a labyrinth area and gazebo are slated for construction in 2019.
The Quorum, together with the Portland Parks and Recreation Department, has organized various fundraising events to benefit the park. These events include the well-attended Summer Concert Series beginning Tuesday evenings in July, and the very popular Haunted Trail Tour which generally occurs on the second Saturday of October.
Where are the Quarries?
The quarries are located to the west of Main Street south of Middlesex Avenue (next to the Post Office) and north of the Bridge, and east of Brownstone Avenue (next to the Oil Tanks by the river) There are currently two quarry holes know as North Quarry (the larger of the two) and South Quarry separated by Silver Lane, (next to the Hess Gas Station)
Where is the Riverfront?
The riverfront area extends from the north end of Brownstone Avenue approx. 1/2 mile along the river to the north end of Brazos Drive. This area primarily consists of tailing (wasted stone) from the Brownstone quarries.
What is going to happen to the Quarries and Riverfront?
This is being determined by the town and public opinion with the help of the Brownstone Quorum. The current focus is to improve recreational access to these areas.
When are the meetings?
The Brownstone Quorum meets on the first Monday of the month at 5:30 pm at the Waverly Center at 7 Waverly Ave. Portland, CT
How can I get involved?
Membership is open to supporters and active volunteers. See Membership for More Info
When was the Brownstone Sling renamed the Brownstone Arch and why?
6/21/2007: The origin of the renaming of Portland's signature artifact, to the best of my knowledge, occurred during the most recent restoration (c.1999). The restorer, being knowledgeable of the history of the logging/lumber industry recognized this device for what it was... an Arch... The core component of its construction being an iron arch, which is arch shaped, though more square than curved, it serves as both the axle and primary support for the load to be carried. The sling is suspended from the arch and consists of the chain which is used to secure the stone or load being carried beneath the arch.