DANBURY -- Behind the Tarrywile Park mansion, sits a graceful grape arbor. If you've been in a wedding party at the mansion you've probably posed among its arches and well-trained vines.
"Brides love it," said Sandy Moy, executive director of Tarrywile Park and Mansion.
So imagine Moy's horror when she returned to work after the October nor'easter to find the arbor in ruins, its arch torn down by the heavy snow, its grapevines in a tangle.
"My jaw dropped and my heart broke," Moy said.
"It was a nightmare," said Sam Crews, head of the ground crew at Tarrywile. "It was chaos, total chaos."
Clearly, chaos was not on the mind of Charles Darling Parks, the hatting magnate who bought the mansion in 1910, and in all likelihood, had the arbor built on the grounds. It had to be restored.
So it has been, thanks to Tarrywile volunteers and staff.
Local jeweler Frank Cappiello is the viticulturist on the project. For the past few years, he has spent time at Tarrywile, pruning the vines and keeping its leafy house in order.
"My grandfather and my father had grapevines," Cappiello said. "I learned from them."
"When we saw the damage, we called Frank to come and take a look," Moy said "We said, `Is it dead?' "
"I've done a lot of work for the city over the years," Beckman said. "It's been a great partnership and I give back when I can."
Crews and two of his workers, Brian Vegerano and Jerrod Coston, disassembled what was left of the old arbor.
The park paid $3,500 for galvanized steel pipes. Then Beckman and his crew, Marl Lopes and Victor Cervantes, arrived to rebuild the structure. They donated their labor.
When they had finished, Crews and his men installed a network of wire over the top of the arbor. Then Cappiello showed them how to put all the vines back in place.
"We didn't have any idea of where they were supposed to go," Crews said.
The end result is a beautiful reconstruction, a little taller and with more arches than its predecessor.
The shiny galvanized pipes will dull and take on a patina as they age, Beckman said. If the pipes stand as long as the old one, 80 to 100 years, it may please everyone. Including wedding photographers.
"We can keep the tradition going," Moy said. "We can keep the vines going and keep the brides happy."