Bolton Flagging

by Hans DePold, Bolton town historian
(Published in Bolton Horizons, August 2009)

I recently came across this article in The Manufacturer and Builder Journal from May 1885:

"Sixteen miles east of Hartford, Conn., in the town of Bolton, is a quarry of remarkable stone, not duplicated in its qualities by any other in this country. The stone is a micaceous slate, but is so thoroughly filled with mica that the slate matrix is hardy discernible by the eye. The best qualities of this stone are not affected by moisture and frosts, are not corroded by acids nor stained by oils, and a slab of it will bend perceptibly before it breaks. As a pavement, its durable quality is also remarkable; there are flags of it on a busy street in Hartford that have been trodden for more than fifty years, and are in good condition now. This stone is in great demand for floors and tables for chemical factories and laboratories, for hospitals, and in public buildings where constant cleanliness is a requisite.

"The quarries are known locally in the mountains as the "Bolton Range," and forming the eastern boundary of the Connecticut River valley. They are at an elevation of about 1,000 feet above the level of the Connecticut River, and are of considerable antiquity, having been worked continuously for more than sixty years. In 1820, flags of this stone were sent to Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and to New Orleans."

Before the Revolution and up to 1812 Bolton had a growing quarry business. Bolton had the finest stone craftsmen and many Bolton colonial houses have cut stone instead of common field stone. Most of the growth of Bolton quarrying came to an end with the War of 1812, when Britain blockaded American ports so that Bolton could not ship stone by boat. Distant cities were force to find closer sources of their stone. By 1830 it was popular and less expensive to build Bolton foundations and even whole buildings in brick. The Tuthill House and the Stage Coach Tavern were built about that time using brick. By 1830 even the house timbers in Bolton were being sawn with straight saws because it was faster and less costly. Every community transitioned their building practices at a different pace. Knowing the evolution of building methods and materials helps preservationist determine the age of local houses.