Brownstone is a brown Triassic or Jurassic sandstone which was once a popular building material. The term is also used in the United States to refer to a terraced house (rowhouse) clad in this material.
Apostle Island brownstone
In the 19th century, Basswood Island, Wisconsin, was the site of a quarry run by the Bass Island Brownstone Company which operated from 1868 into the 1890s. The brownstone from this and other Apostle Islands quarries was in great demand, and brownstone from Basswood Island was used in the construction of the first Milwaukee County Courthouse in the 1860s.
Hummelstown brownstone is extremely popular along the East Coast of the United States of America, with numerous government buildings from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Delaware being faced entirely with the stone. The stone comes from the Hummelstown Quarry in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Hummelstown Quarry is the largest provider of brownstone on the east coast. Typically the stone was transported out of Hummelstown through the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad or taken by truck up to the Erie Canal.
Portland brownstone is also very popular. The stone from quarries located in Portland, Connecticut and other nearby localities was used in a number of landmark buildings in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, New Haven, Connecticut, and Hartford, Connecticut.
New Jersey brownstone
Use in urban private residences
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There are many brownstones throughout numerous New York City neighborhoods, especially in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Heights, and Bedford Stuyvesant. The Manhattan neighborhood of the Upper West Side, too, retains many brownstones. New York City brownstones are highly desired, and usually cost several million dollars to purchase.
Although some brownstones exist in Chicago, a similar residential form known as "greystones" are by far more prevalent. A greystone is a type of residential structure that utilizes Indiana limestone for its facade, regardless of its overall architectural style. As in Brooklyn, there exists a "Greystone Belt" in Chicago, with large numbers of such structures located in the south and northwest quadrants of the city. It is estimated that around 30,000 of Chicago's greystones built between 1890 and 1930 are still standing.
Use in colonial country homes
Brownstone, also known as freestone due to its durability and advantages as a building material, was used by early Quakers in Pennsylvania to construct stone mills and mill houses. In central Pennsylvania, some 1700s-era structures survive, including one still used as a residence, known as the Quaker Mill House.
- Dimension stone
- Railroad apartment
- Hummelstown Brownstone Company
- Besancon, France, noted for building facades made of stone from Chailluz Quarry
- NPS.gov: Stone Quarries of the Apostle Islands
- "NJDEP-SEEDS-State Rock". State.nj.us. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- "What is a Greystone? | Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago". Nhschicago.org. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
- Website devoted to the Apostle Island brownstone quarries in Wisconsin.
- Website devoted to the Weser brownstone quarries from Germany being imported into the US.
- Link to Brownstone Supplier Natural Brownstone US and Canada
- "After Fight, a Brooklyn Brownstone's Costly Rescue," The New York Times (March 31, 2010)
- Website devoted to the colonial-era Quaker Mill House in Pennsylvania