Co-Founder of Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Ensures It's Future in Cazenovia with $1.6 Million Gift

Mar 9, 2018

More than 100 acres of land on a hilltop in Cazenovia with walking trails and an extensive display of art sculptures will be able to continue following a generous gift left behind by one of its founders.  The place is known as Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.  Friends of Dorothy Riester say that she viewed - life itself - as a work of art.  Longtime friend and Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Historian Steven Waldron recalls a particular visit with Dorothy.

A large sculpture at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia.
Credit Bob Gates

“I arrived, came in, dropped my coat on a chair and we sat down to chat.  Her first thing was what’s going on, what are you doing.  But, she then looked over at the chair and she said, look at that.  The lines, the drape... you know, that’s sculptural.”

Riester died last year at age of 101.  She founded the art park with her husband, Robert who predeceased her in 1996.  Dorothy discussed how she envisioned the home they built on the property in a 2012 Story-Corps interview.

“So, I made the house follow the contour of the hill.  It curves in the front, following the contour line.  And it’s twice as high in the front as the back.”   

The Art Park brings visitors to the hillside section which offers a panoramic view of the City of Syracuse and Riester’s many sculptures.  Community Foundation Senior VP Jennifer Owens established a friendship with Riester.

CNY Community Foundation VP Jennifer Owens.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

“Dorothy and her husband, when they first envisioned the property and what they would do with it.  They started visiting it and they had noted that locals called the hill that they were building on... picnic hill.  And so they really wanted    to keep that openness to the community.”

Owens says in addition to leaving 1.6 million dollars to maintain the grounds, Riester also made certain the property would never be developed beyond the scope of its current public use.

Credit Bob Gates

“Whether or not they have programming going on, the trails are open every day of the year for people to walk on and see their sculpture around the property, as well as programming that they do on the inside.” 

Historian Waldron says there are many favorite sculptures that Dorothy created. 

“There is a sculpture made out of sheet copper which is a humanoid figure kind of standing with hands-in-pockets, leaning back, looking down the hill.  And that, according to Dorothy, is a representation of her husband Bob.  Now Bob looked at it and said... that’s really Dorothy.  That’s a really good representation of Dorothy’s Work.”

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Historian Steven Waldron.

Previous donations will allow the maintenance fund to reach a combined total of 2 million dollars of endowments.  Check out our slideshow of photos from the park.  Click here to visit the park’s official website.