PORTLAND, Conn. (WTNH) — The brownstone used for apartments in the East Coast’s major cities was mined at the Portland Quarries — but now new life is coming to the historic landmark with a new purpose.
Most families know the area for the Brownstone Adventure Sports Park. Darlene Rice and her husband, Dean Soucy, bought six acres of land in 2019 just across the water. The spot was meant to house Soucy’s construction company equipment.
“We called it a Jurassic jungle,” Rice said. “It was a mess, and there was a lot of garbage. A lot of stuff had been thrown over the sides from previous businesses up on the hill.”
The couple knew the brownstone was used for the classic apartments, but as Soucy cleared the area, they found pieces from the past.
“This is the history right here, the stone,” Rice said. “We didn’t move any of the original pieces, we uncovered them. We didn’t know they were here at all.”
Soucy found stones that once held derricks that would be used to pull stones from the quarry. He also found dinosaur footprints, carvings where a steam engine once was and initials on the walls dating back to 1891.
The couple transformed the land into the Quarry View Historic Park and Campground. In the middle of construction, their friend Mark Zarrillo said it could be something more.
Zarillo visited the park and discovered that the space tucked behind the walls of the quarry had great acoustics. They started hosting drum circles with a few people. Then, it kept growing.
“It doesn’t matter what your lifestyle is out there, drumming pulls all types of people together,” Zarrillo said. “Drumming can be whatever you want it to be. It can be somewhere where you sweat, have fun, dance and let loose, or you can go as deep as you want to.”
Soucy and Rice hosted an event Tuesday night called “The Awakening.” It is the first event of the year, welcoming people from all over New England to create music. Attendees described it as a spiritual experience.
“Dean and I will tell you we don’t even feel like we’re owners, we feel like we’re caretakers, cause there’s a lot of history, there’s a lot of feelings here,” Rice said.
People can visit and attend public events at the Quarry View for free. Rice and Soucy take donations for the upkeep of the park. The site books private events like weddings and celebrations of life as well.
To find out more information visit the park’s website or Facebook page.