Residential Limestone: Part of the Earth Machine 

Originaly published in Stone Industry News

We love stone. We love Limestone. From Indiana to Germany; limestone comes to the built environment. There are many opportunities in residential and commercial restoration of stone if you are willing and able to take a grind to the stone, and get into the heart of stone. This article is dedicated to our memories of our colleagues Michael Wiston of Valley Marble and Maurizio Bertoli of MB Stone Restoration both of whom I had the honor to know. So have many of you. There are mechanisms of stone decay upon limestone and calcareous stones by oxides of nitrogen and sulfur. These are chemical mechanisms. There is also moisture, and the most common sources of moisture that cause damage to stone. In this case we picture a limestone facade and small sample area of an architectural element affected by moisture. This particular house is in East Hampton, New York where salt air and moisture problems can be mitigated with maintenance, repair, and restoration. Cleaning, restoration, and maintenance can help avoid such conditions on limestone buildings as cracks, spalling or staining, or scaling. Limestone close to H=3 when well lithified (uniformly cemented) can be deceivingly soft. And then you have the Empire State Building and the others "Hard as a Rock" as they say. Structural cracks, gaps at joints between components and large openings are the evident problems in many cases as this one is pictured here. An investigation of load bearing elements such as columns, and beams, will establish whether those components are performing as they were originally designed, or the stress patterns have been redistributed. A common method of restoration and maintenance on stone in such conditions is filling cavities, cracks, and smoothing or refinishing stone surfaces; otherwise known as grinding, honing, and polishing. We all have listened to the expression "Marble Polishing" and so there is "Limestone Polishing" Smoothing the surface and opening and then closing the pores is a key to proper maintenance.

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M.I.A. Quarry Tour  
Quarry Tour

Ed Hartz joined other members of the Marble Institute of America (MIA) on a tour of several marble quarries in New England. Geologic forces push calcium carbonate deposits such as limestone deep below the surface of the Earth, where heat and pressure form Marble crystals. A similar geological process forms granite from silica deposits. Later geologic forces lifted the marble and granite to the surface where it is economical to quarry the stone for architectural and artistic uses. The conditions that form each marble deposit are slightly different: the ratio of calcium carbonate to magnesium carbonate varies, the presence and amounts of other minerals varies, the pressure and temperature to form marble crystals varies, and the sequence of events that cause inclusions and veining varies. The conditions that form each granite deposit also vary; the duration of temperature and pressure as the silica deposits rise and cool determine how large the quartz crystals will become. The percentage of other minerals such as feldspar and aluminum and the fractures that allow inclusions create the patterns that make granite such an interesting material. The MIA members visited the quarries to see first hand the subtle differences throughout each quarry and the differences between the quarries.

The tour set out in a gray rain in Barre, VT, for the Rock of Ages Visitors Center in Graniteville, where company Vice President Bob Campo showed Ed the monument and mausoleum manufacturing process up close. Rough granite slabs of the desired color and pattern are cut to the required shape, polished, engraved and sand blasted to produce the individual monuments. Following the tour of the manufacturing facility, Ed visited the E. L. Smith Quarry, also owned by Rock of Ages. Granite has been quarried here since 1880. One familiar monument constructed with this granite is the World War II Memorial that opened in 2003. Ed saw diverse granite monuments at the Hope Cemetery in Barre.

A visit to the Vermont Granite Museum of Barre supplied more history and details about the quarrying and manufacturing of architectural granite. At the next stop, Granite Importers owner, Jake Colgan, accompanied Ed an the rest of the MIA group as they walked through the fabrication facility, which was in the process of working on giving a polished finish to curved pieces of Cambrian Black granite for the Mandarin hotel in Boston. Black shows every flaw and curved surfaces are difficult to polish so Ed was very interested to see the techniques that produce the highest quality finish.

The marble part of the tour included the Danby marble quarry, operated by Vermont Quarries Corp. of Rutland, VT. Luca Mannolini, General Manager, led a tour of their facility and the Imperial quarry, in Dorset Mountain, which is the largest underground marble quarry in the U.S. Danby marble was used to construct the U. S. Supreme Court Building, Jefferson Monument and several other prominent buildings, but 90% of the marble has been used for kitchen countertops. Ed examined the facility that produces 30,000 square feet of marble per month, and took photographs of the giant blocks before they are cut into slabs.

Ed and the MIA tour visited the Marble Museum in Proctor, VT, a unique resource of the extent and variety of marble from throughout the world. Philip Gawet of Gawet Marble and Granite recounted the history of the marble industry in Vermont, which is illustrated in the photographs in the museum. The museum is housed in a former factory and warehouse and includes the adjacent abandoned quarry. The worked face of the upper portion of the quarry is dramatically reflected in the rainwater that has collected in the pit. Another highlight of Proctor is a recently restored marble bridge that you will cross on the way to the museum.

The final stop on the tour was the Bethel White quarry, owned by Rock of Ages. Bob Campo explained that the stone quarried there is some of the whitest granite in the world, and a premium quality material. One characteristic of this stone is that it can be cut in either direction and still look the same.

The tour provided the depth and detail of information about New England marble and granite that is only possible with direct face-to-face discussions. Ed and the rest of the MIA group are extremely grateful to their hosts for sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The entrance to the marble mine
At the top of an open pit marble quarry
Descending the marble quarry—notice the tiny people
The working level of the marble quarry
Ed Hartz at the working level of the marble quarry
Approaching the Marble Museum

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By Ed Hartz and Ed Townsend

One of the strong selling points of natural stone is longevity. Natural stones endure through years of use, even centuries of harsh weather. Natural stone has been the obvious choice for monuments and prominent public buildings. Natural stone is a complement to landmark buildings; great design deserves to be preserved in durable stone.

What do we do with our monuments and significant architecture after a hundred years or even just a few years of use, when the original bright finish is dull and various stains have accumulated? We could sacrifice the history and artistry of the original by replacing it with something new, or we could celebrate its endurance by restoring the original appearance of the natural stone.

Restored natural stone encourages the use of more stone in new places. The restored marble floor in the foyer of a pre-war home, reassures the new homeowner that remodeling the master bathroom with marble will be an investment, not just a beautiful way to spend money. Restoring a significant public building or monument reminds consumers that natural stone repays the additional cost.

Natural stone has been promoting green building practices since the first caveman built the second stone wall with materials from the first stone wall. Natural stone is, well, natural. It is recyclable, reusable and renewable. In many places, restoring and reusing natural stone building materials will generate credits that will get the building permit approved or even allow a larger addition.

Restoration supports preservation. Preservation sells the unmatched durability of natural stone. Preservation maintains our connections with history. Preservation conserves our finite earth resources. Everyone benefits.
Ed Hartz
HartzStone, LLC

Tel: 203.426.0885

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The Bookshelf  
The Bookshelf

Ed Hartz continually reads books, magazines and Internet articles to keep current with topics in the stone industry. We have included references to a few of the best on a variety of topics: some that will interest the general reader and some that will interest the professional.


The photography and the quality of the printing are reason enough to read this publication of The Stone Foundation. The magazine specializes in presenting excellent photographs of ancient and enduring stone structures, some in ruins and some maintained for continual use. Of course, the accompanying stories are written from the point of view of stone industry professionals, and there are intelligent discussions of the type of stone and the methods of construction. The photographs and articles will take the reader around the world from Europe to Asia, Africa and the Americas.

In addition to artistic and literary content, the professional will find interesting descriptions of techniques used by leading professionals in different aspects of the stone industry. Professionals describe recent projects and include discussions of the key decisions they made.

The Stone Foundation publishes Stonexus,

Stone Industry News

This tabloid-sized newspaper is essential for keeping track of the people and businesses in the stone industry. Stone Industry News prints the business announcements of the stone industry: job promotions, business acquisitions, new products and the like. It also prints interesting business discussions, including ethics, promotion and successful strategies. Even the non-professional will enjoy the articles on recently completed stone projects.

Stone Industry News is independent of any stone association or trade group. It is published monthly by Industry News, Inc,

Slippery Rock Gazette

The Slippery Rock Gazette is a tabloid like the magazine in the Sunday newspaper. In addition to industry announcements, a variety of industry professionals contribute regular columns on topics ranging from business strategies, and “how-to” instruction to random topics on life in general. The advertising includes most major manufacturers operating in the US.

Find Slippery Rock Gazette at www.

Stone Architecture

Written by Alfonso Acocella
Pub Date: December 2006
Format: Hardcover
Category: Architecture - Methods & Materials
US Price: $150.00
CAN Price: $200.00
ISBN: 978-88-7624-696-8 (88-7624-696-7)
Publisher: Skira
Trim Size: 9-1/2 x 13

About this Book

In this sweeping volume, Professor Acocella analyzes every type of stone, from those used by the Egyptians to the marble used by Mies van der Rohe. Stone as a material is not only analyzed from a historical point of view, it is categorized and examined according to its technological usage. The book is based on comparison and confrontation between origins, archetypes and present-day themes, examining a variety of projects from around the world. It provides an in-depth analysis of the enormous potential of building in stone. A combination of dense, carefully construed chapters are designed to summarize the essence of the material in its various architectonic roles through a series of specially created technical drawings, and a range of original drawings and photos.

About the Author

Alfonso Acocella is professor of technology of architecture at the University of Ferrara, Italy. His previous books include studies of contemporary architecture in Italy.

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Stone Maintenance Partnerships  
Stone Maintenance Partnerships

By Ed Hartz

The stone retailer and fabricator advertises, displays and promotes to generate a continual flow of new customers, then sells a product to each customer whom the retailer will rarely see again. Consider the garden center. They sell new annual plants to the same customers every year. Even when the customer buys a tree that will live for a century or more, the garden center sells fertilizer and pest control. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a continual relationship that generates a steady cash flow every year from existing customers?

HartzStone has partnered with a significant number of stone retailers and fabricators to provide the continuing maintenance that keeps the stone looking as good as the day it left the store. The retailer sells the service and HartzStone does the work.

While some customers shop only on price, other customers demand the highest quality materials and demand that they be kept in the finest condition. These customers have a reputation to establish and they use the impression that their homes give to support that reputation. The retailer knows who these customers are, and the add-on sale of continuing care meets the customer’s need.

The price conscious commodity shopper does not know that there are quality differences between one grade of 12-inch marble tiles and another grade. Successful retailers and fabricators have acquired an intimate knowledge of the characteristics of each type of stone they sell and the differences between French limestone, Indiana limestone and Irish limestone. The stone professional knows more than just the color and texture of each stone, the professional knows the characteristics that will suit the intended installation and those that will present future problems.

The professional maintenance and restoration craftsman also has an intimate knowledge of the characteristics of each stone, with the added knowledge of how well each stone has survived daily use in real homes. The professional maintenance craftsman also has an intimate knowledge of the tools, materials and techniques that produce the desired result with each specific stone in each specific environment. Although the cost conscious commodity customer would be satisfied with service from the local handyman, the high-end customer wants careful and expert craftsmanship. The retailer and fabricator already have full-time jobs, so the attractive alternative is to out-source the service responsibilities to a reliable maintenance and restoration professional. The successful retailer knows what the customer wants, so a brief conversation with local maintenance and restoration companies will reveal which can deliver the expertise that will keep the customer coming back.

So, go ahead and sell the tumbled marble to be installed in a shower, where soaps, lotions and every imaginable product of the cosmetics industry will assault it. Or sell the limestone counter for the kitchen, where cooking oils, fruit juices and a world of exotic ingredients will attack it. Just be sure to sell the post-installation cleaning and conditioning by a professional maintenance and restoration company so that the stone you sell will continue to look good while it is being used. Then sell the periodic maintenance contract so that the show room appearance is renewed every year. The customer will be happy with their stone for many years, and you will pocket a share of the maintenance revenue every year.

Ed Hartz founded HartzStone more than a decade ago to provide the highest quality stone restoration services to some of the most sophisticated and demanding residential customers in the country. HartzStone has built a reputation for professionalism upon extensive study of the characteristics of natural stone, thorough testing of restoration materials and techniques, and careful attention to the details of each restoration job. Visit for more information about HartzStone and to see examples of completed restoration projects.

Granite paving outside the American Museum of Natural History, New York

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