Stone Column: The Legacy of Stone
As members of the stone industry, I think we can all agree there is nothing more appealing than the aesthetics and inherent qualities of natural stone. Whether it is a rare exotic quartzite from Brazil or India, or a traditional Italian stone such as Carrara marble, natural stone is often the “shining star” of a design. And while many stones come from abroad, we also have numerous quarries here in the U.S. that have supplied material for landmark projects, including the Empire State Building, the Pentagon and the base of the Statue of Liberty – just to name a few.
During the time I have been working at Stone World, I have been fortunate to have traveled to quarries not only throughout the U.S., but in Canada, Germany, mainland Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Sicily and Spain. It never gets old witnessing a quarry wall being taken down or learning about the site’s history – so many have been around for hundreds of years and I enjoy hearing about each of their stories. And of course, I then share these stories with you.
Through my encounter with readers, I have had people tell me they find it interesting to read about the different quarries – especially when it is one they hadn’t known about before. It makes me happy to hear this because then I feel like myself and my staff are doing a good job of being informative. For this reason, you probably have noticed we include a focus on quarries several times a year in Stone World.
In this issue, we feature two historic quarries from two different geological locations in the U.S. Both have been around for more than a century and at one time or another laid dormant. In each case, the quarry was purchased by new owners who saw the value in the material and invested to have it remain a viable source for projects.
The quarry currently owned by Russell Stone Products, Inc. in Curwensville, PA, was first opened in the mid-1800s. The site produces two distinctive varieties of sandstone and has been used for many projects on the main campus of nearby Pennsylvania State University and its 24 satellite locations, as well as high-profile projects such as the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. The company owners are dedicated to the success of the quarry, which is evident through the equipment upgrades and expansions they have done since acquiring it. You can learn more about Russell Stone Products, Inc. beginning on page 68.
The Crabtree Orchard quartzite produced by Tennessee Building Stone has been used for prominent buildings at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA; Rockefeller Center in New York City and projects at Disney World in Orlando, FL; among many others throughout the U.S. On July 1, 2017, BMJ Stone purchased Tennessee Building Stone with the intentions to revitalize its facilities and the stone’s historic image. According to co-owner John Rector, the merger for BMJ Stone means continuing the legacy that Tennessee Building Stone has built, and to assure the industry of the quality that they have stood by. “They have built a reputation for that quality and for the good of the industry, and the interest that we have is to maintain the quality that they’ve kept and demanded for past projects,” he said. “We want to continue that, build on that and bring new innovation into the opportunities that are there, and then build on that by expanding both domestic and international sales.” To read more about this quarry, turn to page 74.
While each of these companies have different stories, the common denominator is that they have each supplied material for well-known projects in various regions of the U.S., as well as being a source for other residential, commercial and landscape designs. In both cases, an outsider saw the potential in purchasing the quarry and investing to keep it running. I know there must be more stories out there such as these. If you have one to share, or know of someone who does, let me know. I’d love to write about it.