Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


HANNIBAL, J.T., Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106-1767,

Older stone structures tend to be preserved in small towns, but large cities in the United States are not so fortunate. Demolition of older structures is common and even information on these structures can be lost. Both historical and geologic techniques and inferences need to be utilized to determine the early use of building stone in a large city.

The City of Cleveland was founded in 1796 in a forested area upon glacial and alluvial sediments. There were no outcrops of bedrock in the city until expansion in the mid-1800s. Bedrock pieces entrained in alluvial deposits and glacial boulders would have been available for use as field stone. St. John’s Episcopal Church, completed in 1838 in Ohio City (incorporated into Cleveland in 1854) is, in part, a possible extant example of such use. With the growth in prosperity, the cutting of the forests, and the growth in transportation networks, Devonian Euclid bluestone and Berea Sandstone from nearby quarries was used in Cleveland. A rail line was built in 1834 to transport stone into Cleveland from quarries just to the southeast. Stone from the Pennsylvanian Sharon Formation, quarried in Akron and vicinity, was used later in the century. Of these three stones, only Berea Sandstone is well represented by extant nineteenth-century structures in Cleveland.

However, imported stone was used early on. One of the first private stone dwellings in Cleveland was built of Kingston, Ontario, stone in 1842 by Levi Johnson, a ship captain. Although no known remnants remain, a photo of the structure is consistent with its being constructed of Ordovician Kingston limestone. As Cleveland grew, it eventually enveloped a number of Euclid bluestone and Berea Sandstone building-stone quarries. By the late 1880s the predominant building stones used were Berea Sandstone and Euclid bluestone, but some Sharon Formation, Sandusky limestone (Devonian Columbus and/or Delaware Limestone), and other stones were used as well, beginning the diversification of stone sources that continues to the present.

Historic records are needed to reconstruct early stone use in big cities. Conversely, building-stone guidebooks become important historic records with the disappearance of the historic structures they describe.