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Quarryman will find a home in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Bronze statue, mural planned for Waterman Park

Bill Koch of the Stone Art Memorial Company in Lackawanna designed the statue and heritage site for Albion. The back stone wall will be modified from this drawing so it fits in Waterman Park.

ALBION – Nearly a century after the local sandstone industry hit its peak in Albion and Orleans County, the quarrymen will make a triumphant return to the community.

Mayor Dean Theodorakos and village officials support an 8-foot high bronze statue of a quarryman for Waterman Park on Main Street. I’ve been working on this project for a several months through the Albion Main Street Alliance. We have the statue designed and intend to pursue state funding to help make it a reality.

The park will have a quarrying theme. A 20-foot-long mural with quarry workers will be installed in the next two weeks at 117 North Main St., the building owned by Rick Albright on the north side of the park. The Albion Historic Preservation Commission approved that project on Thursday. The mural is sponsored by the Albion Rotary Club and will be painted by artist Nin Bogue of Lyndonville.

The quarry industry drew thousands of immigrants to Orleans County, and many of those natives of Poland, Italy, Britain and Ireland put down roots here, raised families locally and provided the skill, brawn and money in this community to build incredible church buildings, and other monuments of sandstone that endure today.

The quarryman statue is targeted for the front of the Waterman Park. The sign, stone flower planter and a tree would be moved to make room for the statue and sandstone base.

Their work is prominent all over the state, with ornately carved Medina sandstone featured in houses, government buildings, houses and other treasured structures.

Outsiders come into Albion Medina and Holley and often are impressed by the churches, the courthouse and the downtown business districts. These were prosperous communities full of daring people who dreamed big.

Visitors wonder how it all happened, how these small towns lived the American Dream in such a big way. The quarrymen were the key, in my opinion, to leaving such a lasting legacy, from the beautiful Mount Albion Cemetery to churches that reach into the sky.

The quarrymen did more than build these towns. They left descendants who are among the community leaders today.

The statue will be 8 feet high, from head to toe, but will be taller because of an extended arm and hammer. It will be set on sandstone. I think this will be an attraction, and will help people understand the history of the community, and give us a chance to express our gratitude for the bold achievements of these blue-collar workers from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.

We’re still in the early stages, but I wanted people to know about this effort. I’d like to be on a quarrymen committee to help raise money for this project. If anyone is interested, send me an email at tom@orleanshub.com. I think this committee could also work on developing a Sandstone Trail along Route 31.