North-Central Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (24–25 April 2008)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


HANNIBAL, Joseph T., Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106 and THOMAS, Sabina F., Dept. of Biology & Geology, Baldwin-Wallace College, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, OH 44017-2088,

As in many other cities, the history of building-stone use in Evansville centers on stone availability, means of transportation, and changes in architectural style. Early in its history, stone quarried nearby in southern Indiana, north-central Kentucky, and Ohio—easily transported by river boat and barge, and later by canal—were used. As the railway system developed, stone quarried in south-central Indiana, but also Georgia, the Rocky Mountains, and other far-away sites, was utilized. We have documented the various building stones employed in Evansville over time by reviewing Indiana Geological Survey reports, the 1880 census report, newspaper articles, county histories, and archival correspondence, especially from Evansville's Willard Library, and have combined this with our own observations to identify stone used for some of Evansville historic and more modern structures.

Identification of some stone is particularly challenging. The “oolitic” Salem Limestone, produced in south-central Indiana, has been widely used in Evansville. But, another historically important stone in Evansville was the similar Gasper oolitic limestone (part of the Girkin Formation) quarried in the Bowling Green region of Kentucky. This stone could be shipped to Evansville by barge, and the Caden Company of Evansville owned one of the Kentucky quarries. However, the Caden Company also handled Salem Limestone. Salem Limestone and stone from the Girkin Formation are documented in newspaper accounts published at the time of dedication for the 1886 St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Distinguishing the two similar Mississippian “oolites” here and elsewhere requires attention to subtle color differences and differences in preservation of the rock matrix. The most economically important sandstone quarried in Indiana in the later 1800s was the Mansfield Formation, but brownstone from Illinois was used for prominent historic buildings (the 1879 Post Office and Custom House, and almost certainly for the 1885 Willard Library).

Most stone used for older structures have held up well, but thin-panel exterior cladding on more recent structures is more problematical: Fine-grained marble on the exterior of the 1969 Old National Bank Building exhibits warping and other degradation symptomatic of thin-slab marble construction.