The Stone of Tradition

This post has little to do with real estate.  Nothing at all, really.  One of my favorite places in the New River Valley is actually VT’s campus – it’s not the athletic facilities that attract me, or the Duck Pond.  It’s the academic buildings … I was never much of a student myself, but I find the stone that virtually every building on campus has on its’ exterior so classic and fascinating.  So, in honor of graduation this weekend, I thought I’d give a brief history of Hokie Stone, first used in construction in 1901, with some help from University Relations.

Hokie2 What Is Hokie Stone?
Hokie Stone is Chepultepec and Kingsport Formation dolomite – a variety of limestone especially rich in calcium and magnesium.  Found in muted shades of pink, red, gray, brown, and black, older stones display more pinkish tones from sun bleaching while wetter conditions formed the darker gray and black colors.

Where Do We Get Hokie Stone?
Virginia Tech operates it’s own federally certified stone quarries.  The main quarry is only a couple of miles from campus and supplies about 80 percent of the stone, while a second quarry at Lusters-Gate (five miles east of campus) supplies the remainder.

How Is Hokie Stone Made?
The stone is dislodged from the rock shelf using "quiet" explosives, minimizing noise and protecting the rock.  The chunks of stone are processed by drilling holes in the stone, then splitting the chunks into smaller pQuarryieces defined by those pre-drilled holes.  Once split, the stone is fed into a breaking machine, where they are split and sized into approximately 2′ x 1′ dimensions.  Finally, during the cutting process (which, incidentally, is still done entirely by hand), masons shape, smooth and dress the rough stone to its final dimensions.  Each mason produces about a ton of finished stone per day, while the two quarries produce about 2600 tons per year.  One
ton of stone will cover about 35 square feet on a building.  For example, Torgersen Hall and the Torgersen bridge used about 2,700 tons of Hokie Stone.


So distinctive is the look that the University has directed that all buildings built on campus
since 1983 utilize Hokie Stone into their design, and I’m glad they did.  It’s one of the more unique aspects of what’s already a
beautiful campus, and something I hope this year’s graduates will remember fondly.  Congratulations grads and all the best – We ARE Virginia Tech.

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