I’ve been working on an idea for a documentary film for some time now, and I’m beginning pre-pre-production on it this month. The documentary will tell the story of the Federal District Boundary Stones – a series of 40 stones which were laid by Andrew Ellicot and surveyed by Benjamin Banneker in 1791-1792 to define the borders of the original 10-mile square District of Columbia. Almost all of the stones still exist, in backyards and on the sides of streets. I live a few blocks from one, known as “Southwest 5.” In the 1950s, the DAR “adopted” the stones and erected plaques and fences around many. Unfortunately, in 2003, they have mostly been ignored or abandoned. Here’s what SW5 looks like as of this morning:
The fence is in need of attention, the area is completely overgrown, and the stone itself seems to have been toppled.
Some stones are in excellent condition – especially those on private property, where the land owners seem to give them special attention – but those in public right of ways such as this one are ignored. This is an aspect of the stones that I’ll touch on in my film – and I’ll step up to the plate and “adopt” SW5 myself, once I film the evidence of neglect, I’ll be painting the fence, clearing the undergrowth, and consulting with the DAR and US Geological Survey Boundary Stone Committee on the wisdom of re-righting the stone.
If you have any interest in the stones, have one in your yard, or just have an interesting story to tell about them, please contact me. You can e-mail me at “stones at genecowan.com”.