Eagle Scout project leaves lasting mark for Spencerport/Ogden

By on September 11, 2017
Ogden Eagle Scout Donovan Berbeneciuc stands next to the stone wall at the Colby/Pulver House which he built as his Eagle Scout project. The stone wall will serve as the backdrop for a daylily display garden planned by the Ogden Historical Society. K. Gabalski photo

Ogden Eagle Scout Donovan Berbeneciuc stands next to the stone wall at the Colby/Pulver House which he built as his Eagle Scout project. The stone wall will serve as the backdrop for a daylily display garden planned by the Ogden Historical Society. K. Gabalski photo

A very special project is taking shape at the historic Colby/Pulver House in Ogden.

Seventeen-year old Donovan Berbeneciuc, a senior at Spencerport High School, spent the summer working with his family, members and leaders from Boy Scout Troop 04, Ogden, and members of the Ogden Historical Society, to construct an impressive dry-stacked stone wall on the east side of the Colby/Pulver House Museum on Colby Steet. The stone wall serves as Donovan’s Eagle Scout project.

The wall will anchor a daylily display garden that Ogden Historical Society member Jean Colby says will include dozens of varieties of historic as well as cutting edge daylilies.

“Our goal is to become one of the few historic daylily display gardens,” she says.  “In order for that to happen, we must have 50 daylilies in our garden that were hybridized and registered prior to 1970.”

Daylilies were chosen for featuring in the garden because for more than 20 years, the bright summer blossoms have been the official flower of the Town of Ogden and the Village of Spencerport, Colby explains.

The stone wall makes a stunning addition to the Colby/Pulver House grounds. It is five feet high and 50 feet long and includes steps near one end.

Donovan Berbeneciuc completed the project in late August.

“We have gone through a lot of Ibuprofen,” he, his mom, Renee, and Jean Colby joke.

“It was a life-changing experience,” Donovan observes of the project.  “I learned a lot about leadership and what it’s like to run a project.”

He says his scout leader Brian Olmstead (Bill Sweetland is an assistant leader of the Troop) suggested the stone wall as a possibility for an Eagle Scout project.  Donovan loves history and was drawn to the project because of the fact he would be doing something for a local museum.

“It’s a really neat thing to do,” he says, “to help out a museum.” Donovan says the stone wall project was also a way to repay Scout leader Chuck Colby, “for all he gave me in Scouting.”

The project ended up being a bigger task than anyone had imagined.

 Eagle Scout Donovan Berbeneciuc inspects the south end of the stone wall at the Colby/Pulver House. He says he received numerous “granite kisses” - pinched fingers and hands - during construction of the wall for his Eagle Scout project. K. Gabalski photo


Eagle Scout Donovan Berbeneciuc inspects the south end of the stone wall at the Colby/Pulver House. He says he received numerous “granite kisses” – pinched fingers and hands – during construction of the wall for his Eagle Scout project. K. Gabalski photo

Jean Colby provided details regarding the construction: Dan Pearl of Natural Stone Works provided a beginning workshop to teach the correct building methods; it is a dry-build stone wall with no cement, mortar or glue.  The wall is held together by the weight of the stones and friction which is created by having every rock touching  another rock on 80 percent of its surface.  Each linear foot of the wall has 1 to 1 1/2 tons of rock. The base is 3 1/2 feet wide, tapering to 1 1/2 feet at the top. Seventy tons of rock was provided for the wall by Colby Homestead Farms. Jean Colby says the rocks were taken from farm fields.

“The wall has required much more time and effort than I imagined,” she explains.  “Overwhelming at times, but we keep working because it will provide an awesome background for the daylily display gardens.”

Elaine Berner, an Ogden Historical Society Member who is responsible for the gardens at the Colby/Pulver House, has been a driving force for the stone wall/daylily project.

“By starting with help from Dan Pearl, an expert dry-build stone waller, the Town of Ogden will have a beautiful natural stone wall at their Colby/Pulver House for years to come … a photo destination,” Berner says.  “My favorite part of building the wall with the Boy Scouts and their families and other community members is that Colby Homestead Farms has brought this project full circle to add to the house Eastman Colby built in 1811.”

Donovan’s family, including his stepdad, Jason Batz, mom Renee, and 14-year old brother Brayden, all helped with the stone wall construction. Renee says she is, “very proud,” of what Donovan has accomplished and the family hopes to continue to help with the project.  The first day they worked a full eight hours, but Renee says they quickly realized the nature of the work required shorter work days.  Evenings became the preferred time to work in shorter sessions of a few hours.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 04 and their families (including some engineer dads) faithfully helped the project along all summer, Renee and Donovan say. “There was a job for everybody.”

Jean Colby, Renee and Donovan note that the process of building the wall was like putting together a, “three-D puzzle; it all had to fit together.”

Donovan says it felt amazing when they were done. “I will never look at a rock wall the same,” he observes. Dry-build stone walls can last hundreds of years, the three say.

Work will now continue on backfilling around the wall and creating the beds for daylilies, Colby says. Planting of flowers will probably come next year. “It will provide an outstanding backdrop to the daylily display garden,” she says of the stone wall.

Jean Colby and Donovan Berbeneciuc place additional stones on the wall at the historic Colby/Pulver House.  All stones were gathered from fields at Colby Farms and transported to the site. Colby says the rocks are a mix of different materials including granite, Medina sandstone and shale. Jean is standing on the steps which cut into the wall and lead to the house. K. Gabalski photo

Jean Colby and Donovan Berbeneciuc place additional stones on the wall at the historic Colby/Pulver House. All stones were gathered from fields at Colby Farms and transported to the site. Colby says the rocks are a mix of different materials including granite, Medina sandstone and shale. Jean is standing on the steps which cut into the wall and lead to the house. K. Gabalski photo

Colby explains that a daylily display garden is a showcase and must be approved by the American Hemerocallis Society.  The display garden will be open to visitors who can view the amazing diversity of daylilies.  The plants bloom from June 1 until September 1 and come in every color except true blue.  Flowers range in size from 3 to 7 inches, and height varies from 12 to 60 inches.  Some daylilies re-bloom, and some varieties are fragrant.

“Daylilies are addicting,” Colby says.  “I am unable to pick a favorite.  The ones with different colors on their edges that are ruffled intrigue me.”

The Ogden Historical Society will be offering a selection of daylily plants for a donation of $3 each on Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17. The plants will be available on September 16 at the Depot and Canal Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on September 17 at the Colby/Pulver House from 2  to 4 p.m. Funds raised will help with signage at the display garden.

Colby adds that Monroe County has one other public daylily display garden located at the Webster Arboretum in the Kent Road Town of Webster Park.

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