No Surprises with Reliable, Proven Building Stone


View of the Marble Valley in Vermont

Increased demand for building stone drives activity at Vermont’s historic Danby Quarry, inside Dorset Mountain.  Historic building stone gives the builder an advantage that stone from unfamiliar sources can’t match; its durability in local climate conditions can be accurately understood by observing the performance of the stone in existing buildings. For over two centuries, Vermont marble has been shipped so widely that no part of settled North America is without a nearby example.  Porosity, permeability and other stone characteristics can be measured scientifically, but until material has been exposed to a local climate for many years, its true character cannot be known.  A carefully chosen historic building stone can help to guarantee the builder’s legacy.

The oldest examples of the reliability of Danby marble are to be found in its home, Vermont’s Marble Valley. The first marble works on the mountain were operated late in the 18th century and the liberal use of this material in local, early vernacular structures amply documents this activity.  So common that it was put to use in paving and retaining walls, it can still be seen in long service in the most humble and difficult roles.  By the early 19th century, significant public buildings were being fabricated and shipped from here.  The formal Greek Revival US Customs House in Erie, PA, built in 1837, is an early surviving example.

Erie Customs House

Erie Customs House

By the end of that century, Marble Valley was the biggest marble producing region in the US with scores of fabrication mills and quarries operating along the sixty-five mile north south formation that gave the area its name.  The Danby Quarry is almost all that remains of this industry and is the only reliable source for this important and influential historic building material.

Entrance to the Danby Quarry

Entrance to the Danby Quarry

In new work, historic material delivers not just proven durability, but a familiar authority derived from continuity with the existing historic built environment that shares in it.  In the case of Danby marble, this is mostly important public buildings.  Danby Quarry has quite recently produced many new buildings including temples for the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Columbus, Raleigh and Detroit and The Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis.  Builders are learning that the choice of a building stone is a consequential one and this understanding has produced a renewed interest in classic materials.  Danby Quarry expects to continue to expand capacity and production to meet the demand for this trusted building stone.

List of Stone Quarry Specialists.

By John M. Corbett

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