Opus 40 for sale

In the MLS database for $3.5 million: A Saugerties property with 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,860 square feet of living space, and a backyard that rivals the seven wonders of the ancient world. Opus 40, a massive bluestone sculpture that sprawls across an abandoned quarry and took creator Harvey Fite 37 years to finish, is for sale.

Real estate listings can tend towards hyperbole, but this one deserves every last fruity adjective:

Offering a once in a life time opportunity to make this magnificent haven your home and become the steward of Harvey Fite's Opus 40. This extraordinary earthwork, home, museum, gallery and amazing collection of Harvey Fite's work defies belief.

Since Fite's accidental death in 1976, Opus 40 has been maintained and kept open to the public by his family. The current owner, Fite's stepson Tad Richards, wants to sell the property so he can retire.

Susan Barnett of WAMC reported today that the town of Saugerties is looking into buying Opus 40. Special projects coordinator Vernon Benjamin hinted that it might qualify for federal stimulus funds:

Opus 40 is shovel ready, so to speak, for cultural and arts organization type use.

That's a bit of a shift from last week's Daily Freeman story, which reported that the town was looking for a nonprofit to take over the site. What seems clear is that Saugerties has a stake in the future of Fite's masterpiece--and that Opus 40 becoming a private playground would be a great loss, both for the town and for the cultural heritage of the region.

From 2006, here's a New York Times story about Opus 40 and the man who spent half his life building it.

Photo by Flickr user mediafury. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mediafury/ / CC BY-NC 2.0