Thursday, March 18, 2010

Granite--The Stone Mountain Kind

Something I've learned recently: a lot of Old Houses in Atlanta have granite foundations and granite porch columns and a lot of the Old Neighborhoods have granite curbs.

Some of this granite came from Stone Mountain. The park's train ride that takes visitors around Stone Mountain passes the old quarry. I never thought about it much until I've started seeing all this granite in town.

A Google search turned up a blurb on the quarry:
Granite quarrying started at Stone Mountain in the 1830s, but became a major industry following the completion of a railroad spur to the quarry site in 1847. This line was rebuilt by the Georgia Railroad in 1869. Over the years, Stone Mountain granite was used in many buildings and structures, including the locks of the Panama Canal, the steps to the East Wing of the United States Capitol and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Unfortunately, quarrying also destroyed several spectacular geological features on Stone Mountain, such as the Devil's Crossroads, which was located on top of the mountain.

In 1887 Stone Mountain was purchased for $45,000 by the Venable Brothers of Atlanta, who would continue to quarry the mountain for 24 more years, and descendents of the Venable family would retain ownership of the mountain until it was purchased by the State of Georgia in the 1950s.

According to this information, the quarry stopped production about 1911, so only the oldest Pretty Old Houses would have Stone Mountain Granite. 

This Pretty Old House--being purchased by a couple of my clients--was built in 1910.  Could this be authentic Stone Mountain Granite?

This is one of the fireplace mantles.  We think it's a combination of brick and granite (under about a hundred coats of paint.)

Here's the house we renovated in Buckhead a couple of years ago. The foundation is massive. It was built about 1938 so probably doesn't have Stone Mountain Granite. I'm disappointed.

In addition to foundations and porch column granite was used on homes as trim.
Here are some Tudor style homes from Morningside with granite trim.

I could go on again about character in these two, but I'll save that for another time.
This one has granite trim and a colossal chimney.

Our Morningside house has a granite foundation,

and a granite chimney,

plus the mantle in the living room is granite--and thankfully hasn't been painted.

Here's a truly magnificant home built of granite--Stone Mountain Granite.

Stonehenge Mansion
The Stonehenge Mansion was built in 1914 for Samuel Hoyt Venable, a bachelor, and his sister, Elizabeth Venable Mason, her husband, Frank Tucker Mason, and their children. The architect for the mansion was Edward Bennett Dougherty. Another of Mr. Venable's Sisters, Mrs. Leilla Venable Ellis was responsible for the murals and other art work throughout the house. The mansion was built in the Domestic Gothic Style of the Tudor period from Stone Mountain granite.

Sam Venable and his brother William Venable owned and operated the Southern Granite Company which in turn owned Stone Mountain, Arabia Mountain, and Pine Mountain. Naturally, they chose granite as the primary building material for their home.

St. John's Lutheran Church bought the mansion in 1959 for some sixty thousand dollars and spent another fifty thousand dollars renovating it for its new use as a church. The sanctuary was added in 1969. Designed by architects Barker and Cunningham, they used the same Stone Mountain granite as the original structure.
(from St. John's Church website)

Talk about building your house upon a rock.

Until next time,