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When John Ruskin said, “when we build, let us think we build forever,” he was probably thinking about building with stone. This is one of the most ancient, common and durable of all building materials. The Egyptian pyramids, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York are just a few of the world’s most well-known stone structures. The APT Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) provides a wide variety of trade literature on this topic including various construction textbooks, trade association overviews and single quarry sales literature. Most of the BTHL documents are from the 20th century, and the era before WWII is particularly well represented in the collection. This was an era when most civic buildings in the U.S. were constructed of masonry, with stone as the material of choice for the most significant public structures. Virtually every U.S. state capitol is constructed of stone. The federal campus in Washington DC has stone buildings of all types, with Indiana limestone being one of the most widely used. Many of the various stone company trade catalogs feature extensive lists and photographs of building across the U.S. that were completed with their specific stone.

The BTHL is mostly a collection of trade catalogs, but because of an early partnership with the International Masonry Institute there are a number of early textbooks on masonry construction. These documents provide comprehensive overviews of stone classification, physical properties, quarrying and fabrication methods. Some of them also go into detail about stone finishing and carving practices. When it comes to the technical details of stone construction, these documents go into detail about stone foundations and details of early construction practices that preceded the modern era of concrete construction.

Most of the documents in the BTHL on the topic of stone come from coordinating trade association or a single company. The limestone and granite trade associations were particularly prolific. They even engaged in a bit of promotional competition of superlatives. Granite was called the “noblest stone,” whereas limestone was promoted as the “aristocrat of building materials.” The three other most common stone materials found in the BTHL are marble, slate and sandstone. The ubiquitous brownstone of New York is technically a type of sandstone. Some stones are given specific trade names for a single source or region. Georgia marble or Indiana Limestone are regional examples, while “alberene stone” is specific to one county in Virginia.

The documents about stone from the post WWII era show a very different type of stone construction from earlier generations. The popularity of “veneer” walls with highly varied stones in size, texture and color was a very different expression in the use of stone. This was particularly popular for residential and small commercial buildings. This was also the era when thinner and thinner stone veneer panels were being developed for high rise construction, a trend that still continues today. The BTHL has several other types of stone that are not included in this summary, such as “cast stone,” which is a custom cement mix rather than a true stone.

Building stones are integral to the history of architecture. The documents in the BTHL tell the story of stone as a product of enduring beauty and durability. These are the characteristics that have made stone a preferred material for many civic buildings throughout the centuries.


[Illustrated catalogue] : the Cleveland Stone Company, miners and manufacturers of buff Amherst, Berea, and blue Amherst building stone ... etc., 1887

[Illustrated catalogue] : the Cleveland Stone Company, miners and manufacturers of buff Amherst, Berea, and blue Amherst building stone ... etc., 1887

Cleveland Stone Co., Cleveland OH

https://archive.org/details/illustratedcatal00clev

The Ohio region produced a sandstone with a very fine grain and a buff color. This delightful catalog featured a few illustrations of the quarries and many illustrations of completed buildings. The list of projects across the eastern half of the U.S. starts with Government buildings and Courthousea, a testament to the era of major public buildings in stone.


Hummelstown Brownstone Co., 1903

Hummelstown Brownstone Co., Waltonville PA

Hummelstown Brownstone Co., Waltonville PA

https://archive.org/details/HummelstownBrownstoneCompany

Brownstone is typically associated with New York townhouses, but this Pennsylvania brownstone catalog provides ample evidence of the use of brownstone in Pennsylvania and states other than New York. This catalog featured photos of completed projects as well as technical data noting the superior quality of this brownstone, particularly in terms of water absorption.


The Book of Vermont Marbles: a reference book for architectural professionals, 1920

Vermont Marble Co., Proctor VT

Vermont Marble Co., Proctor VT

https://archive.org/details/TheBookOfVermontMarbleAReferenceBookForTheArchitecturalProfession

This comprehensive catalog lives up to its name with technical details, specifications, completed projects and views of the quarrying and fabrication. The photos include both exterior and interior views.


Indiana Limestone: the aristocrat of building materials, 1917

Indiana Limestone Quarrymen’s Assoc., Bedford IN

Indiana Limestone Quarrymen’s Assoc., Bedford IN

https://archive.org/details/indianalimestone00indi

Indiana Limestone has proven to be one of the most widely used building stones in the U.S. This trade publication from 1917 is equally divided between images of buildings and promotional materials about the qualities of the material.


Studies in Granite: the noblest of building stone, 1923

National Building Granite Quarries Assoc., Boston MA

National Building Granite Quarries Assoc., Boston MA

https://archive.org/details/StudiesInGraniteTheNoblestOfBuildingStone/page/n2

This trade publication has a visually delightful series of architectural illustrations of granite with quotes that emphasize the durability of granite – “the noblest of building stones.”


Appalachian /Tennessee Marble, c. 1925

Appalachian Marble Co., Knoxville TN

Appalachian Marble Co., Knoxville TN

https://archive.org/details/AsbestosteelForRoofsAndWallsBulletinFifty-four

The catalog features large color plates that show the appearance of various marbles, which can have a strong veining pattern and colors noted as “roseal, golden, gray, pink, silver gray and dark chocolate.”


Brick, stone and plaster, 1925.

William B. Lowndes, (International Textbook Co.), Scranton PA

William B. Lowndes, (International Textbook Co.), Scranton PA

https://archive.org/details/BrickStoneAndPlaster/page/n372

This textbook provides an excellent overview of building stone with sections on stone classification, physical properties, quarrying and fabrication methods and considerable details about the finishing and carving of stone.’


Granite architecture, 1931

National Building Granite Quarries Assoc., Boston MA

National Building Granite Quarries Assoc., Boston MA

https://archive.org/details/Sweets1931ACat5

There are more than 22 different types of granite noted in this trade publication. There are large color illustrations of these along with details of various finishes. The technical notes include a section on “modern granite veneer,” as building stone moved from a structural application to a facing material.


Marble Goes Modern, 1940

Vermont Marble Co., Proctor VT

Vermont Marble Co., Proctor VT

https://archive.org/details/marblegoesmodern00verm

This publication tells the story of how a material that had a long tradition in architecture could find a new sense of expression. Marble Goes Modern shows examples of recent building in Vermont marble that were designed in the art deco and moderne styles that emerged in the 1930s.


A catalog of building stones, 1954

International Cut Stone Contractor’s and Quarrymen’s Assoc., Indianapolis IN

International Cut Stone Contractor’s and Quarrymen’s Assoc., Indianapolis IN

https://archive.org/details/ACatalogOfBuildingStones

In the 1950s, there was a major change in how stone was used, particularly in residential buildings and a move to highly variegated stone veneers. This national summary of available cut stone featured more than 30 designs of stone walls with “surface patterns achieved through variations in color and tone; shadow patterns which result from deep pointing; structure patterns gained buy varying the type of stone used in different building elements…”


A portfolio of details plates and general information, 1954.

Portfolio Of Detail Plates limestone 1954

https://archive.org/details/APortfolioOfDetailPlatesAndGeneralInformation/page/n22

This publication has 24 plates with architectural drawings of construction details for the for both traditional bearing wall construction and modern curtain wall construction.


Marble forecast: availability of foreign and domestic marble, 1958

Marble Institute of America, Mt. Vernon NY

Marble Institute of America, Mt. Vernon NY

https://archive.org/details/MarbleForecastAvailabilityOfForeignAndDomesticMarbles/

This is an American trade association publication that is noteworthy because of the extensive list of U.S. and foreign sources for marble. Most of the important stones came from Europe, with the largest number of quarries in Italy.


Stone, 1962

Bergan Bluestone Co., Paramus NJ

Bergan Bluestone Co., Paramus NJ

https://archive.org/details/stone00berg

This is a catalog of stone veneers, primarily for use in residential and small commercial buildings. The veneer stones were typically 4 inches thick for installation of a back-up wall. There was an emphasis on random ashlar patterns with variations in stone size, color and texture.

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