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Willoughby Wallace Library
 

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Stony Creek Granite Sites Public Buildings Willoughby Wallace Library

Willoughby Wallace Library

The Library


It is said that the granite found in Stony Creeks quarries and underneath the Thimble Islands may be the same someone may find in Egypt. At one time Stony Creek and Egypt may have been connected and now both provide may the same export. First quarried in 1858 by Benjamin Green, the granite in Stony Creek is unique. The pink color is unique to the area and provides a very vibrant and rare look. Stony Creek granite has been used in countless building projects throughout the country. The base of the Statue of Liberty is made of granite from Beattie quarry located in Guilford, right next to Stony Creek. It is the same stretch of granite as Stony Creek Red Granite Co. and Norcross Brothers quarry. The Stony Creek Red Granite Co. provided granite used in Grand Central Terminal in NYC and shared the South Station project in Boston with the Norcross Brothers. The Stony Creek Red Granite Co. also was used for Grants Tomb. To name all the sites that have used Stony Creek granite would be impossible for this paper. New York City loves the granite, and has traces of Stony Creek throughout many buildings in the city. There are buildings as far as New Orleans that have traces of the granite. Even a small town in Indiana has a building with Stony Creek Granite.


The granite industry in Stony Creek provided so many immigrants with jobs. In an online article it mentions how the quarries were like the United Nations with workers from Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, England, Scotland, and Latin America. The economy of the area thrived with the quarries. There were jobs, and people had income. People flocked the America from Europe, on page 57 of “Flesh and Stone,” it states that there were only five quarry workers listed in the census of 1880, but in the 1900 census that number had grown to 124, which did not include the small number of general laborers and blacksmiths that also were at the quarries. Prejudice was a natural thing to occur when you have such a melting pot and Stony Creek was no exception. The Irish were prejudiced against for the longest period of time. They were used as scapegoats for issues around town, including a fire of a quarrymen boarding house and a murder of a train station manager. Of course as time passed prejudices disappeared and by the early 1900s things were okay.


people at quarryWilloughby Adelbert Wallace was a resident of Stony Creek in Branford. He was a local business man and loved his community. Upon his death in November of 1946 he left a sum of money, $93,000, to the Town of Branford, to be used for a free public library in Stony Creek. If this money was not used within 10 years of his death it was to be given to the Congregational Church of Christ in Stony Creek, to be used any way they chose. The residents of Stony Creek were not sure what they would prefer the money to be used for, and many wanted the Church to have access to the funds for a recreational center. Others agreed that the need was for a library. The decision for the library was made just within the 10 year time frame given for the monies. By the time this decision was made the money had grown to $186,00. Construction began in October 1956 on the site located on Thimble Island Road. Douglas Orr, a Stony Creek Resident and a renowned architect, volunteered to design the library for the town for no cost. Orr loved the pink granite and he described it as “an enduring and noble material because of its lovely texture and color…the kind of [stone] you’d want to put into an important building.” (Flesh and Stone 148.) The building of the library was completely done in Stony Creek Pink granite. The Castellucci Brothers donated all of the granite needed for the project, estimated at around $5,000 worth of granite. Because the building is made with the granite it is a lasting resource for the community. The design of the library reflected the modern times, with the very box style shape of the building ,and the flat roof.

norcross quarry
The Castellucci quarry has a lot of history. Originally the Norcross Brothers quarry, it was one of the most booming in the early 20th century. They employed 200 men in 1900, and half of those men were experts at their craft. They had to most high tech equipment and best drills so they were the most efficient quarry around. The Dodds Granite Company from Milford, Massachuetts purchased the quarry in 1923. They paid $128,000 for the quarry and were mildly successful. They remained active until 1929. From then until 1955 the quarry was inactive and not used for granite. In 1955 the Castellucci family purchased the quarry and reopened it. They had very big markets in Boston, New York, and Washington DC. Business was very successful in the 1960s, but tapered off in the 70s. The Castellucci family sold the quarry land (405 acres) to the town of Branford, but 50 acres were to be leased back to more quarry work.
One other important part of the Stony Creek granite family is the Thimble Islands. It has been said that there are around 365 islands, one for every day of the year, but that number is far fetched. There are most likely around 100 islands including small uninhabitable rocks that lie about the water’s surface. The islands have been a summer spot for many wealthy people for years. There are water taxis to bring people to their homes, and boat tours to discuss the history of the islands and all the culture that is there. Once a home to many Indians, the islands now house the wealthy and some celebrities have even been rumored to have homes there. Most islands do receive power and fresh water from shore, but some still do not. During the summers the main channel fills up with large boats and young adults enjoying their summer and having fun. It is truly a great place to be and a real experience.


Today the Willoughby Wallace Library still remains very active in the community and provides many services for the town of Branford. From day camps to art gallery shows, the library provides plenty for the community to participate in. The stone work of the building is still a marvel to many people that see it. Such a modern look and rare color make the building a piece of art. No matter what weather or issue we may face, that building will stand tall. People use the library all the time even though they do have strange sometimes not always definite hours. The many donations that contributed to the existence of the library are amazing, the money for the land, the design, and the granite all were donated, making this library a true community gem.

 


 

Works Cited
DeFord, Deborah. Flesh and Stone: Stony Creek and the Age of Granite. Stony Creek, CT: Stony Creek Granite Workers Celebration/Leete's Island, 2000. Print.
"The History of Branfords Stony Creek Quarries." Welcome to the Town of Branford! Web. 20 Oct. 2010. .
The, By. "A Glimpse of the History of the Thimble Islands." Welcome to the Town of Branford! Web. 20 Oct. 2010. .

Last Updated on Friday, 10 December 2010 10:50  

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Flesh and Stone

Flesh and Stone - Stony Creek and the Age of Granite - buy at Amazon.com
Available on Amazon

Uncirculated: Shrink wrapped in clear plastic from original Italian publisher, 1999. Ships with fresh samples of sparkling Stony Creek pink granite for historians, collectors, geologists and classrooms. Additional samples available upon request.