When you work with a commitment to reusing material, it can be just as much about preserving history as it is about keeping materials out of our landfills. Every once in a while you get the amazing reward of being able to do both and you’re reminded why this work is so important for our past, present and future.
On May 10th of this year, the First Unitarian Church of Detroit, a structure that had stood on the corner of Woodward and Edmund Place since 1890 was sadly lost to an early morning fire. Sighting a public safety hazard, the remains of the structure were quickly demolished that the site was scaled clean. It appeared that another of the city’s architectural gems had been lost forever, with out leaving a trace that it ever existed.
Just last week I had written that we were working with Boomstone Company and Metropolitan Stone to help us locate a suitable match to our 1898 red sandstone facade. Since the original upper peninsula quarry that had produced our sandstone had closed nearly a century ago, we had selected a close match and were preparing to ship new red sandstone from an active quarry in Colorado. That was before last Thursday when Jamie Generous, a project manager with Booms Stone, called me to let me know she had found a sample that we might want to consider and asked if I could meet on the site of the El Moore to compare to our stone. When we held her sample to the building it was an exact match, complete with the dark discoloration that could only be found on stone that had been exposed to a centuries worth of exposure in industrialized cities like Detroit. This was our stone, stone that came from the same quarries in the Keweenaw region, this was very old stone. Jamie explain that the owner of Metropolitan Stone had worked with the demolition contractor to save as much of the sandstone from the First Unitarian Church in the days following the fire.
I’m happy announce that we’ve cancelled our order for the Colorado sandstone and will instead be working with
Metropolitan Stone to carve our decorative corbels from the stone blocks that once stood at Woodward and Edmund Place and the story of this building will live on in the rebirth of the El Moore.
We’re reminded once again of Detroit’s motto:
Speramus meliora; resurgent cineribus (We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes)