April Regional Meeting Westerly RI — Quarries and Quarrying Tools

The Early American Industries Association in conjunction with the Babcock-Smith House in Westerly, R.I., will hold a regional meeting on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Babcock-Smith House, 124 Granite St., Westerly. EAIA member Paul Wood will speak on “Tools and Machinery That Created the Granite Industry,” describing the changes in granite industry technology up to World War II. The meeting is open to the public. The day begins at 8 a.m. with tailgating tool sales, followed by museum tours, a box lunch, the talk by Paul Wood, and a walking tour of Westerly to see examples of the quarry’s stone and the building and monuments made from it.

The famous Westerly granite, which was used for everything from humble curbing to skyscrapers to monuments for the Civil War dead and mausoleums for Gild Age robber barons, was first discovered in 1845 on the Babcock Farm  by Orlando Smith. Today, the restored Babcock-Smith house interprets the story of the families who lived there. The museum’s collection, however, emphasizes the tools and ephemera of the granite industry in Westerly. Among the items are the order books of the Smith Granite Company, which describe in detail the design of the work, the stones that were cut, the names of the workers, and the cost of stock and labor. The order books will be on display during the meeting.

The day begins at 8 a.m. with tailgating tool sales in the museum’s parking lot. Coffee and dough-nuts will be available, and at 9 a.m., attendees will divide into groups for tours of the house, viewing of a DVD on rock drilling and a trailer of the recent PBS documentary on the Westerly granite industry, and a walk-through of the museum’s vault where the order books are located, as well as a tour of quarry industry tools (including some “whatsits”) in the museum’s basement.

Cost for the day is $18 and includes the lunch and the museum tours and all the other activities. Advance registration is requested. Contact Patty MacLeish at editor@earlyamericanindustries.org

Additional information on the event can be found here on the EAIA website and the print brochure can be found here. Given the event is this week, please contact Patty at the email address above if you plan to attend.

Photo caption: A Westerly, Rhode Island, granite quarry. Credit: Babcock Smith House