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The “Stone Church” is an ancient cavern on the Stone Church Brook in Dover Plains hewn by time in the formation similar to a church’s cathedral stained glass window. According to local legend, the site was a refuge for Pequot Sachem Sassacus and his warriors as they fled from the English Army in the 1600s. In the 1800 and early 1900s, the Stone Church was a popular local attraction for New York City dwellers to visit and enjoy the recuperative fresh air and beauty of upstate New York. When the privately-owned 58.5 acre property was offered for sale in 2002, the Town of Dover, the Dutchess Land Conservancy and the Friends of Dover Stone Church, collaborated to raise private and public funds to acquire the property. Grant and match funds from the Dutchess County Open Space and Farmland Protection Program, the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation were secured along with donations of numerous residents, businesses and area supporters to successfully complete the acquisition in 2004. In 2009, neighboring property owners graciously donated a conservation easement on 50 acres adjacent to the historic right-of-way. In 2010, they also donated 63 acres in fee along the land’s southern border to the Town to expand the open space and further protect the site’s natural beauty and ecology. In 2010, improvements to the historic right-of-way entrance included restoration of the maple tree- lined land and stone and wood footbridge for passage across the Stone Church Brook. Future improvements are planned to develop nature and hiking trails for residents and visitors to further enjoy local wildlife and flora.
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