In the midst of pouring through invoices and bills for the Rockport Granite Company from 1866 – 1872 I am startled when I come across a relative or two.
To spice up today’s article in the Boston Globe on the attempt to match old Rockport granite , here are 2 images from the Rockport Granite Company.
the first is the typical architectural photograph in situ…
immediately following completion, the Rockport Granite Company added the contract to their portfolio of ad slicks
Erected in 1912, the National State Bank of Newark NJ, featured a base of grey granite and monolith Sea Green Granite Columns.
These perspectives images of building and monument examples resulting from Rockport Granite Company contracts, were acquired by the SBHS in summer 2013. The cataloging, description and identification (where necessary) of each photo has been undertaken by Leslie D. Bartlett as part of his on-going research into the era of quarrying granite on Cape Ann. Often the photos do indicate the type of granite and historical location. It is of interest to note as well that duplicate copies have been found for many of the buildings. I believe that this allowed the Rockport Granite Company to assemble a marketing kit of examples to present to potential clients.
Over time, as the era of pure granite building was superseded by steel beam construction, the sea green granite from Blood Ledge remained a showcase for architectural accomplishment and prowess. This is the first post of a successive series which catalogs the reach of Cape Ann Granite. The entire base is of Cape Ann Gray and it is highlighted by 9 polished columns of Sea Green Granite.
“One time last summer I go over Rockport Granite Company quarry. walk down on dock, see stone-cutter’s sheds,
all go to pieces, walk under bridge, along where tracks was, all gone down, pull up…” -Gor Svenson 1935
The two images below illustrate the relative quick return of vegetation below the Keystone Bridge, once the Rockport Granite Company ceased operation. The first image is circa 1930: It looks out toward Granite Pier, with the full complement of RR tracks.
The second image here below is taken but five years after the Rockport Granite Company dissolves.
The steel tracks are gone, railroad ties still embedded. Now 82 years later, there are only tiny traces of what once was
part of the daily quarry life in Rockport…
How the Finn Quarry Workers Slept & Worked
Head to toe, head to toe.
Eight in a row.
Eight rows to the floor;
With windows left open
there’s room for eight more.
A sheet on the window
To allow the cold air in,
Keeps the body blood flow
And ready for the 6 am din.
The pay day window faces
The ocean grim,
Trudge across the road
To the company store
And turn most of your cash back in.
Split a few stones
In your back yard lot.
Turn in a thousand
Of choice Belgian cut.
Another twenty dollars
To spend on the family you’ve got.
by Leslie D. Bartlett, March 13, 2014
“On Thursday morning, April 27, between 7 and 8 o’clock, a crowd of men composed mostly of Finns, started in procession over Rockport Granite Company’s property, through their quarry and drove about 200 of their quarrymen, paving cutters, blacksmiths, etc., from their work, they demonstrated by” hollering” and hooting and told the men they must quit work or else there would be trouble, they were repeatedly told get off the Rockport company’s property and let the men alone but would not move until they were perfectly ready.
Among the number recognized as being the leaders were…
Matt L. Jacobson, Oscar Isaacson, John Mattson, Frank Hendrickson, Hendri Hendrickson, Matt Mattson 2nd,
(observations recorded by Louis Rogers, Rockport Granite Company)
A note by Les Bartlett,
B. Erkilla’s “Hammers on Stone,” pp 143-147 recount the general outline of the 1899 strike, I suspect that she had access/knowledge of the kind of name list I now have, but back in the 1960s and 70s, there might have been stronger feelings about naming the names. I am hoping that from this listing, some people will connect with their ancestors and more sharing might come around this vital, often violent chapter of life on Cape Ann. For much worse was to follow on the heels of “Strike 1899.”
If Victor Biglink comes to your door, give him a cup of black coffee, he’s been working hard days and hard nights.
I shall name for you – you the living descendants,
I shall spell out the trouble makers -those early English Americans, the Irish sloggers, the Scottish skirts,
the Russian Finns, and Italians who could not cut stone enough to drown a duck…
who if you eliminate them, we shall have a first class shop.
I shall return to you, the stone dust and grit in your cough,,,,
RECEIVED ROCKPORT October 12, 1906
“I thought I would write and let you know
albout all about this Stricke trouble. The head one of this trouble…..”
[to be continued]
The world of selling stone was an intense competitive market. Contracts were not self-sustaining, nor were they renewable. You took stone out of the ground, shaped it either as paving stone, dimension stone or monument stone, it got shipped – then placed. And you were on to the next contract. Work stoppages and slowdowns in a quarry were throttled by strikes, bad weather, or contract cancellation. You always had an eye out for what was cut, what needed to be cut from the quarry floor.
This image is of the Charlestown Navy Yard, showing deterioration of concrete masonry on the East side of Pier No.1, July 1, 1907. The Rockport Granite Company hired photographers to show examples of bad concrete uses, as a means of securing contracts for granite replacements