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Chatham Quarry Records

 Collection
Identifier: 1980-0001

Scope and Content

The records of the Chatham Quarry detail the daily financial transactions of one of the oldest brownstone quarries in the United States. All of the records are handwritten ledger sheets or financial documents. Records of an administrative or personnel nature are not available. The records are composed of sales and expense statements for the quarry for the years 1818-1839 and 1832-1841. It also includes one folder of statements, account balances and receipts for the years 1833-1842.

Dates

  • 1818-1842

Access

The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.

History

The Chatham Quarry, or Town Quarry, was a small part of the extensive brownstone quarries located on the banks of the Connecticut River near the towns of Portland and Middletown, Connecticut. As early as the 1650s, settlers used small pieces of the brownstone for building materials. When the townspeople of Middletown realized the value of these enormous deposits, they hired caretakers to manage them. After the Revolutionary War, the town was forced to sell off the quarries to private interests to pay their war debt. By the 1849s, control of the quarries rested mainly with three companies—Shaler and Hall, Middlesex Quarry Company and Brainerd Brothers.

The brownstone was of excellent quality and was in demand in practically every part of the country. The stone was used extensively for gravestones and monuments throughout New England. One block of the Washington Monument was built with Portland brownstone. Other prominent buildings constructed with this stone were the old Hancock House in Boston, the Copper Institute and the Astor Library in New York City, and the mansions of such influential industrialists as William H. Vanderbilt and Fractured Gallatin in New York City, George Pullman in Chicago, and George Corliss in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Chatham Quarry, which took in about two acres, remained under municipal control for the use of the inhabitants of the towns of Chatham and Middletown throughout its existence. For almost two hundred years the residents had the right to use the stone to build cellars, steps, walks and more. In 1824, the town of Middletown leased the quarry to John Lawrence Lewis for five years in order to extract stones for the building of a scientific and military academy, although the academy was never built. In 1883, the town offered use of the quarry as an inducement to Wesleyan University to locate in Middletown. For the sum of $10,000, Wesleyan University enjoyed the usage of the quarry for almost forty years, and many of the university's finest buildings were constructed from Chatham Quarry stone.

The quarry was controlled and managed by the town until August 1884, when it was bought by Brainerd Quarry Company and the Middlesex Quarry Company for $20,000. The sum was divided among the towns of Middletown, Portland, Cromwell, and Chatham. The quarry had already been exhausted, and the town had been leasing it to the Brainerd Company for quite some time as a storage area for scrap and stone. The office of the town quarry agent closed in 1884. The last person to hold this office was William H. Beebe.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Chatham Quarry, or Town Quarry, was a small part of the extensive brownstone quarries located on the banks of the Connecticut River near the towns of Portland and Middletown, Connecticut. The Chatham Quarry, which took in about two acres, remained under municipal control for the use of the inhabitants of the towns of Chatham and Middletown throughout its existence. In 1824, the town of Middletown leased the quarry to John Lawrence Lewis for five years in order to extract stones for the building of a scientific and military academy. The quarry was bought from the town by Brainerd Quarry Company and the Middlesex Quarry Company for $20,000. The office of the town quarry agent closed in 1884.

Custodial History

The Chatham Quarry Records were donated to Yale University by Harvard Business School in 1942. The Yale Library Manuscripts and Archives donated the records to the University of Connecticut Libraries in January, 1980.

Acquisition Information

The Yale Library Manuscripts and Archives donated the records to the University of Connecticut Library in January 1980.

Title
Chatham Quarry Records
Status
Published
Author
Archives & Special Collections staff
Date
1991 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

Contact:
University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US
860-486-2524