A BRIEF HISTORY In 1938, Harvey Fite (1903-1976), one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department, purchased an abandoned quarry (reportedly for $250) in the town of Saugerties, NY, in Ulster County, about 100 miles north of New York City. Over a period of 37 years he created the monumental world-acclaimed 6 ½-acre bluestone sculpture now known as Opus 40. During this period he also acquired additional land (70+ acres today) and built several structures, including a beautiful large wood home, a studio, garage, blacksmith shop and the Quarryman’s Museum, home of his unique collection of historic quarrying tools. Constructed by this one man, using dry-key stone techniques adapted from the Mayans, Opus 40 is made from millions of pieces of indigenous bluestone, laid by hand, creating a labyrinthine world of finely fitted stone, swirling with ramps and terraces constructed around pools and trees and fountains, rising out of bedrock a half mile deep. One can walk through, around, and over it, from the deepest recesses of its subterranean pathways (16 feet below ground) and up to the nine-ton monolith that is the epicenter and summit of the sculpture (three stories above ground). Opus 40 is a breathtaking blend of artistry and landscape. After Harvey Fite’s death in 1976, his wife, Barbara, opened the sculpture park to the public and in 1978 she created Opus 40, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, dedicated to showcasing this monumental work as well as Harvey’s individual stone and wood sculptures. Striving to fulfill the mission to develop Opus 40 into a world class arts and cultural destination, Opus 40 has presented numerous concerts (including Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Cliff, Orleans and Pat Metheny), as well as theater and dance performances, lectures and many other educational and community events. Opus 40 has been featured in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, on network TV, and in many other publications and media. Opus 40 has been designated A National Historic Place.
“Opus 40 is a cousin of Stonehenge and the long since vanished Hanging Gardens of Babylon.”
Brendan Gill, Architectural Digest