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The Maine Stone and Building Industry, 1886

Excerpts from

Mineral Resources of the United States, Calendar Year 1886

David T. Day, Chief of Division of Mining Statistics and TechnologyDepartment of the Interior,
United States Geological SurveyGovernment Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1887.

Excerpts from the chapter on Structural Materials, by William C. Day.

"The year 1886 opened with encouraging prospects for the building industry generally throughout the country, but scarcely were active operations fairly under way when the widely-spread labor disturbances which have made the year memorable began, making themselves felt in a number of the largest cities, both in the east and west.  As soon as the labor troubles were inaugurated, many building enterprises were abandoned, and many more were postponed until the differences between labor and capital should be smoothed over.  The building operations which were carried on during the period of disturbance were in most cases attended by small margins of profit to all concerned, and in some instances by disaster to contractors and to those who supplied material.  Business was dull for all branches of trade connected with the building industry; demand for material was low and irregular, and values fell off quite considerably.

"This period of general depression was, however, followed by one of the greatest activity, and while it is true that many building enterprises contemplated at the beginning of the year were abandoned and not taken up again in 1886, still the fact remains that at the close of the year the showing made by the principal cities of the country was a large increase in the amount of building done, as compared with 1885.

"The kind of buildings most extensively erected during this period of activity consisted of residences, the demand for which, in view of our rapidly increasing population, is naturally at all times imperative.

"Only a few cities show positive evidence to the effect that building operations for the entire year were curtailed owing to the influence of labor troubles, although, of course, the frequently-propounded question, "What would have been the amount and value of building done in 1886 had there been no serious interruption?" is one which no one can satisfactorily answer."

Bangor, Maine:  "This city is the center of a large lumber-producing district, and this product is naturally much more extensively used than brick, stone, or other building materials.  Comparatively few of the finer or more expensive buildings are erected.  During 1886, dwellings of moderate cost formed the class of structures most largely built.  There being a number of slate quarries near the city, slate for roofing purposes is cheap and is freely used.  Ornamental building materials find little favor and it does not seem likely that there will be any great demand for them in the near future.

Portland, Maine:  "The following table shows the progress made in building during the last three years:

Number and value of buildings erected in Portland Maine, 1884 to 1886
Number and value of buildings erected in Portland, Maine, 1884 to 1886

"The building stone used in Portland consists chiefly of red and buff sandstone quarried at Long Meadow, Massachusetts, and granite taken from quarries at Biddeford, Red Beach, and Hallowell, Maine, and Conway, New Hampshire.  For roofing purposes slate is quite freely used, and the demand for it is increasing; tiles are not much employed, the climate being unfavorable to their adoption.

"As shown in the foregoing table, frame structures formed the large majority of buildings erected during 1886; brick is manufactured from local clay deposits; the use of ornamental brick and tile is gradually increasing."

"In this city (New Haven, Connecticut), for all ordinary brick work, brick manufactured at North Haven, Connecticut, is extensively employed, while in the best brick buildings pressed brick from Philadelphia and Trenton is liberally made use of for facings; black mortar in brick work is frequently used.  Terra cotta has as yet been but sparingly introduced, but ornamental brick is quite popular.  The stone employed consists of brown sandstone from Portland, Connecticut, bluestone from the North River quarries, and granite from quarries in Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island."

"Besides the Long Meadow stone, bluestone, from Schenectady, New York, sandstone from Connecticut and New Jersey, and granite from Maine are used (in Albany, New York)."

"For all ordinary works in this city (Cincinnati, Ohio) the local limestone is used.  For ornamental purposes Buena Vista, Berea, Amherst, and Cleveland sandstones are liberally employed; also Dayton, Ohio, and Bedford, Indiana, limestone.  Granite, chiefly from Maine and Missouri, is used to some extent."

"For foundations and ordinary work (in Chicago, Illinois) Joliet and Lemont, Illinois, limestone is used; for ornamental work the following are used:  Brown sandstone from Connecticut; red sandstone from Long Meadow, Massachusetts, sandstones of all kinds from different sources in Ohio, the Lake Superior region, and, to a less degree and quite recently, from Colorado.  Bedford, Indiana, limestone is quite popular.  Georgia marble is being introduced with great satisfaction, particularly the pinkish-gray variety.  Granite from Maine, Missouri, and Minnesota is largely used."

"The building stone in use (in St. Louis, Missouri) consists of local limestone; sandstone from Warrensburg, Missouri; Lake Superior brown sandstone, and granite from Iron Mountain, Missouri, and from Maine."

"For flat roofs (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), gravel composition ranging from the cheapest coal tar to the best asphaltum is chiefly used; tin is used to a less extent but still quite extensively.  For the best buildings having high pitched roofs, slate, which comes chiefly from Maine and Pennsylvania, but also a fine quality from Michigan is used; for the cheap buildings, shingles are of course employed."

Granite and Allied Rocks - Production:  "The depressing influences which have been felt during a part of 1886 by the quarrying industry as a whole have naturally produced their effects upon the production of granite, and although the total output is unquestionably greater than that of 1885, still it has by no means come up to what appeared to be expected at the beginning of the year.  Granite is steadily increasing in popularity as a stone for ornamental and decorative purposes.  This statement applies particularly to those varieties which admit of a high polish.  A statue of granite is now is now said to cost very little more that (sic) one of marble, notwithstanding the much greater hardness of the former.  This, however, may be accounted for in part at least by the fact that much less detail is brought out in granite than in marble sculpture.  Granite is produced in eighteen different States; the most important of these are in the order named, as follows:  Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, and New Hampshire.."

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