North Barrington land stewards’ legacy lives on
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:38AM
NORTH BARRINGTON — When writing about long-time former residents, who remained in our Barrington North area to the end of their long lives, I always try to keep in mind that I may be informing a generation of newcomers about people who contributed so much to the environment we are blessed to enjoy.
Of the people who came out to our sparsely populated area after WWII, Arthur L. Rice, Jr. and his wife, Carol, stand out for recognition.
In 1955, they moved out to Cuba Road, to the vintage farmhouse directly opposite Old Barrington Road. The old stone pillars at the driveway entrance bear the legend “Craftsbury Farm.”
There, they raised their three children: Carol, Emily and Art III, who all graduated from Barrington High School. And there, appreciating the priceless beauty of the countryside around them, they joined, and in many cases, facilitated and supported the creation of those organizations that would prove instrumental in preserving the woods, fields, creeks and wetlands which abound in our area.
The Barrington Area Development Council, the Greater North Barrington Area Association, the Barrington Area Historical Society and Citizens for Conservation were among the beneficiaries of the quiet wisdom and generosity that the Rice’s brought to the community. They were among the original members of CFC when it was founded in 1971.
After Art Rice died in 2002, and then Carol in 2010, there were still, fortunately, many of us to recall their love of the community and the countryside.
I had first met them in the mid-1980s, when Art was president of the Barrington Area Historical Society during the time that I was the director. Their generosity, in acquiring first what was known as the Kincaid House, and then the Applebee House next door, provided the Society with the buildings and land on which the Museum campus is now located.
That the Rice name is not widely associated with this chapter in the Society’s own history, is perhaps a reflection of their quiet goodness.
Now, there is to be another memorial in our own countryside. At Citizens for Conservation’s annual meeting on Feb. 20, their children announced that about 22 acres of the original Craftsbury Farm property is being donated to CFC as a memorial in perpetuity to their parents.
It will be known as the Craftsbury Preserve, and has about 8 acres of uplands with remnants of sedge meadows and grasses and about 10 acres of wetlands, stretching west from behind the farmhouse to North Hart Road.
At the meeting, Art Rice III said: “Carol and Emily and I are very pleased to make this donation to CFC, an organization that is the recognized land steward in the Barrington area. It is a way for us to recognize our parents, who loved this land and would have wanted it protected in perpetuity. We are convinced that through CFC’s restoration efforts, the land will evolve into a marsh surrounded by sedge meadows, prairies and savannas, a protected oasis amidst our area’s vanishing heritage.”
From my Barrington North column of Sept. 12, 2002, written as a tribute to Art Rice, Jr., I rephrase the conclusion: Look around as you drive through our North Barrington countryside and villages, to our lovely tree-lined roads and fields, and the side-by-side existence of human and wildlife habitats, and you will find a memorial to Art Rice, Jr. and many of his contemporaries. For you, who come later, this is your legacy. Those of us who share and value this legacy hope that we may find many like-minded neighbors among you.
Art and Carol Rice were too unassuming to say, as Christopher Wren did, “If you want to see our memorial, look around you.”
But we, now more than ever, can offer that tribute as many of us driving daily along Hart Road will enjoy the Craftsbury Preserve and know it’s history.
Email me your news: Barbaralbenson@aol.com.