Located along Granite Street in Pigeon Cove of Rockport, a very late stone Mansard building stands right at the side of the road. Luckily, the building’s name and date of construction were carved into the stone, allowing for a pretty quick research on this building, which was at one point, the headquarters office of the Rockport Granite Company. The building served as one of the quarry offices of the company’s many quarries where managers would oversee shipments and run each branch.
The history of the granite industry in Rockport and greater Cape Ann is truly fascinating and detailed, but essentially began in 1840 when many quarries opened which then provided rough and hammered granite for building, cemetery and monumental work. In 1864 an earlier quarry was reorganized as the Rockport Granite Company. The company expanded its facilities, and gradually bought out six other quarries on Cape Ann. At its peak, the company employed over eight hundred men across all their quarries. Due to the deep water off Cape Ann, transportation of the cut granite to Boston, New York City and Washington D.C. for a variety of large projects was easy.
One of the most prominent local examples of the Rockport Granite Company’s work is the Custom House tower in Downtown Boston.When it was completed in 1915, the 500-foot tower was Boston’s first “skyscraper.” It remained Boston’s tallest building until 1964, when the Prudential Center was built. The tower was constructed entirely of Rockport granite supplied by the Rockport Granite Company. A crowning achievement was the sculpting and placement of four stone eagles on each corner of the 30-story tower’s 20th floor ledge.The 16-foot tall eagles were sculpted in Rockport Granite Company’s Bay View plant, transported to Boston, raised to the 20th floor, and mounted, where they remain today. The first of the eagles was installed in 1914.
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