Monday, April 10, 2017

Ellicott quarry granite for Baltimore Cathedral

Gray granite from 'Ellicott and Company' quarry was taken by large wagons with "nine yolk of oxen" on the Frederick road to Baltimore to build the first Cathedral in the new nation.  Designed by famed architect Benjamin Latrobe (the US Capitol), started in 1806-1812, War of 1812, 1817-1821.  Now the Cathedral is called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a co-cathedral was completed in 1959.

From The Catholic Church in the US... -

"In October, 1806, the Building Committee were authorized to select hammered stone for the walls, and orders were given “that when the walls of the Cathedral be raised to the Water table the work be stopped till next Spring.”

The gray granite from the vicinity of Ellicott's Mills was drawn by oxen in carts and “the outside walls were carried up to the entablature in a few years,

when the War, with other causes, suspended its progress.” Work on the Cathedral proceeded slowly. Foreign commerce was stopped for more than a year by an Act of Congress in 1807, and the Trustees were hampered by lack of funds. The War of 1812 brought on stagnation in business. In October, 1816, it was decided to commence the rebuilding of the Cathedral in the spring of 1817.

In January, 1817, Luke Tiernan, Treasurer of the church, exhibited a note from Ellicott and Company granting permission to the trustees to take stone from their quarry on the same terms as formerly, that is, to have it from the same part of the quarry and to leave all stone not suitable for use in the Cathedral." The Catholic Church in the United States of America v3 1914

from Maryland Geological Survey 1898-

"It is not certain whether the quarry on the Baltimore county side or the quarries of the Howard county side furnished the first material for Baltimore, but it is clearly evident from the character of the rock furnished for the Catholic Cathedral, that the gneiss was the more important rock at that time. Local tradition assigns the source of the stone sometimes to the Baltimore county side and sometimes to the Howard county side and the published information is equally conflicting and indefinite. When the Cathedral was constructed during the years 1806 to 1812 and subsequently from 1815 to 1821, the material was hauled from Ellicott City to Baltimore along the old Frederick road in huge wagons drawn by nine yoke of oxen.

After furnishing the rock for this building, which must have been one of the most important stone structures in the United States at the time of its construction, the quarries evidently were worked only to meet local demands."
Maryland Geological Survey, v2  1898
©2017 Patricia Bixler Reber
Forgotten history of Ellicott City & Howard County MD

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