With all the hoopla surrounding the opening of the new, $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium, most media have overlooked one irony: as fans stream through the massive gates, they walk right by Deer Isle granite, quarried by die-hard Red Sox fans.
The granite rings the base of the stadium’s faÃ§ade and was also used for the Babe Ruth plaza outside the stadium.
Third-generation stone setter Bill Pues, of Conventional Stone and Masonry in Mineola, New York, set the Deer Isle granite, as well as Indiana limestone, in Yankee Stadium.
It was on his recommendation that the New York Yankees chose to use Deer Isle granite. “There is nothing better that can replicate a landmark than those stones,” Pues said. Planter boxes were also made of the Maine stone.
New England Stone, LLC provided some 8 million pounds of Deer Isle granite for the new stadium, which officially opened April 16.
The granite actually came from New England Stone’s Crotch Island quarry, the last major island quarrying operation in Maine. At a time when other island quarries are silent, Crotch Island (located off the southern tip of Deer Isle) produces between 55,000 and 75,000 cubic feet of granite per year, according to foreman Danny Hypes. “Deer Isle granite is everywhere,” he said.
In fact Maine granite can be found coast to coast, from the Security Trust and Savings Bank in Los Angeles, to the breakwater in New Orleans, to the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to Yankee Stadium, Maine granite can be found throughout the New York metropolitan area, from the foundations for the Manhattan and George Washington Bridges, to the New York Custom House, the New York County Courthouse, the Isaiah Wall at the United Nations and the Statue of Liberty, among many other buildings.
Hypes and his three-man crew are all Red Sox fans, but did not know about the latest destination of the granite they quarried until contacted by the media. “We cut the stone, but we usually don’t know where it goes,” said Hypes.
Hypes has worked at the quarry since 1990. He began with no experience, learning on the job, and worked his way up to foreman in two years. He has kept this position for the past 17 years. The four-man crew cuts granite from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., five days a week from April 1 until just before Christmas.
These days, granite is cut with a diamond wire saw, rather than the traditional explosives. It is quarried in 40,000-pound blocks, measuring 4 feet 6 inches by 5 feet 6 inches by 10 feet six inches. It took 200 of these blocks to make up the 8 million pounds used in Yankee Stadium. According to Hypes, if all goes well, it would take about four months to quarry this much stone.
After being quarried, the blocks are barged 25 at a time to the marshalling yard in Oceanville. There the blocks wait to be trucked one at a time over the Deer Isle Bridge to their buyers or to the fabricator of the buyer’s choice. The Yankee Stadium stone was sent to a fabricator in Quebec.
For Bill Pues, Yankee Stadium was not his first experience using Deer Isle granite. Perhaps most notable is his work on what he refers to as the “9/11 building,” or 90 West Street in New York City.
The building was constructed in 1905. It was designed by prominent architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed the Woolworth Building in New York, which was the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1913.
Pues used Deer Isle granite to repair the damage done to this landmark in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Back in the late 1860’s, John Goss Sr. began quarrying Deer Isle granite. He no doubt could never have imagined that 200 years later this stone would be sought after for some of the most honored and most expensive structures in the world.