School Facilities Provide a Testimonial to Local Slate
December 2, 2008
Like many regions where stone quarrying is prevalent, the New York/Vermont slate belt utilizes local products for a range of civic and public applications. Among them, the local schools in Granville, NY, have utilized slate from the region for many years. Today, after many decades and several renovations, the stonework has retained its natural beauty.
The facilities use a range of colored slates, all of which were taken from the local slate belt, which extends over an area of approximately 25 miles. These materials are shipped across the U.S. and worldwide, and several of the stone-producing families have continued into a third or fourth generation.
Three different schools in Granville utilized local slate, and their names and descriptions are as follows:
Quaker Street Elementary School , Granville, NY
This facility was built from 1959 to 1961, and the main entrance features 960 square feet of slate in a pattern with sizes ranging from 12 x 24 inches up to 18 x 30 inches, using Vermont Dark Green and Vermont Gray Green varieties.
This floor has been serving students, faculty and the public for 47 years, and the building also has slate stairways, landings and window sills. Additionally, slate veneer was used for the exterior of the building.
Middle Granville - Mary J. Turner School
Also built from 1959 to 1961, the original main entrance features 700 square feet of slate in the same pattern and material as the Quaker Street School - Vermont Dark Green and Vermont Gray Green varieties in sizes ranging from 12 x 24 inches up to 18 x 30 inches.
This school underwent an extensive renovation in 2001, which included a major addition of classrooms and a gym. The new addition to the gym entrance uses 850 square feet of Vermont Green slate tiles on the floor in a 12- x 12-inch size. Additionally, the new back entrance/exit leading to the garden area features 600 square feet of 12- x 12-inch Vermont Green slate tiles.
Granville - Junior/Senior High School
More than a decade after the elementary schools were completed, the Granville Junior/Senior High School saw its own slate installation in 1974. For the main entrance, the design called for a broad pattern of material. The full color range of Vermont and New York slate varieties were used in a 750-square-foot area, and the pattern included tile sizes ranging from 6 x 6 to 12 x 18 inches.
There have been two major classroom additions and renovations to this facility, although the slate flooring has remained in place and stood up to heavy traffic for 34 years. Meanwhile, the original Junior/Senior High School, which was built in the 1930s, features a pitched slate roof which has never required replacing.
Challenges to the stonework
Once installed in the schools, the slate was required to withstand the extremely heavy traffic of students, teachers, staff and guests for several decades. Moreover, given the harsh winter climate of Upstate New York, the material was subjected to snow, ice, sand and salt being continually tracked onto its surface.
Another challenge came from the renovations to the facilities. While the increased activity associated with a major renovation has often damaged flooring made from cheaper manmade materials, the slate flooring showed no ill effects from the disturbance of the workmen and equipment passing through the space.
In terms of maintenance, a very minimal procedure is used for preserving the slate flooring in all three schools, according to Brad Wood, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for the Granville Central School District. The steps are as follows:
1. The floor is stripped using Betco Corp.’s Ax-It Plus floor stripper and a low-speed floor machine, using a medium scrub pad to remove any old finish and accumulated dirt. The solution is then picked up with a “wet vac.”
2. The floor is then rinsed with clean water until no residue of the stripper remains.
3. The floor is then waxed with four to five coats of Buckeye International Inc.’s Castleguard high-solids metal interlock finish, applied with a rayon-finish mop.