Historic mansion restored with local limestone
“There was additional stonework done through two main areas: a large courtyard from the basement, with beautiful stone walls, and the front of the house, which matches the original,” said Steve Lovell, owner of the Queen Anne Mansion. “Additionally, a stone perimeter wall, going across the front of the property was taken down and re-laid. Approximately 40% of the original wall was replaced.
“All of the new stone being laid was all hand-pitched exactly the way it was done in the 1800s,” Lovell went on to explain. “The nearest quarry, the Ozark Southern Stone’s limestone quarry, is home to the best limestone and highest quality limestone in the U.S. They had been able to do this in the past — that was the determining factor — their ability to construct stone that looked like it could have been laid back in the 1800s.”
The Ozark Southern Stone quarry first extracted stone in the early 1860s, and it is 29 acres in total. “The stone is drilled the old fashioned way — we drill up to 10 feet deep by hand,” said Lowell Johnson of Ozark Southern Stone, adding that 25 feet of mountain had to be drilled through before reaching the stone used for the mansion. “We had to extract thousands of stones before getting to the variegated layer.” By pouring Dexpan into the drill holes, spaced eight inches apart, the desired stone was able to “crack out” within 24 hours. “Years ago, there was only 75 to 80% usability for stone, but because the Dexpan cracks gently, they were able to quarry huge blocks of 7,000 to 8,000 pounds,” Johnson said. After hand-pitching an original 425 tons of stone, Ozark Southern Stone provided 300 tons of stone for the Queen Anne Mansion.
When speaking on challenges Johnson said that the most difficult aspect of the project was hand-pitching all of the stone. “We used the same tools used in the 1800s,” he said. “Everything was hand-pitched with a hammer and chisel. We worked seven days a week. We all had sore wrists.”
Johnson went on to say that the quarry has grown “by leaps and bounds” in recent years. “When I bought it, the quarry was very slow, and we blossomed,” he said. “This city is built on stone — stone that is endless. There are lifetimes of stone in this quarry. We are now shipping to different states in the union.”
It took a total of 12 months to extract all of the limestone needed for this project. “Everything that left the quarry was ready to go,” said Johnson. “It was the finished project when it left.” The entire project was completed in 16 months. Johnson called this project “one of the most detailed and beautiful projects since the late 1800s.”
The current quarry is also connected to the project in a historical sense, as Johnson said it appears that one of the three different limestones provided for the original mansion came from Ozark Southern Stone’s site as well.
The reaction to the restoration has been “fantastic” according to Lovell. “People come into the courtyard that we’ve created, and the stone makes you feel very calm; everybody loves it,” he said. “To me, the greatest thing was that the work was done in a fashion that is so similar, so near, to the exact look of the original stone. And 100 years from now, when it’s aged, no one will be able to tell that it was laid 120 years after the other part.”