Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You look good in purple

purple stripes with matching awnings
I knew there was something unique about the stone walls in Perth. So accustomed to Kingston to Port Hope limestone am I that I had to approach and touch it before the truth dawned. Sandstone....of course. Lots of ancient river bottom in the area.

The Welcome to the Heritage Perth Walking Tour guide picked up from a friendly and helpful young woman at the visitor centre in the kitchen tail behind Matheson House (another story there) throws around new words like "white Bathurst sandstone", "mottled Otty Lake freestone" "twenty-four inch sandstone" "locally quarried Potsdam sandstone" "reddish sandstone."

Ashenburg adds "dark sandstone" "oatmeal coloured sandstone" and, best yet, "Hughes quarry purply stone'.  And there are purple stripes, as this closeup of the substantial block at 44 Gore Street East shows.
44 Gore Street

A quick search yielded this terrific Fossils and Geology of Lanark County blog which emystifies the unique purple-banded (narrow lines to 10" thick) sandstone, often called Perth stone, that is featured in a number of c.19 buildings, and building accents, in Perth, with a few examples in Arnprior and Almonte.

purplish voussoirs, lintels, string courses and quoins
 on industrialsit T.A. Code's home Kininvie (1906)

The purple hue is likely iron staining, according to blogger Christopher Brett.

Because the purple  stone was easy to cut, it formed readily into decorative trims. But this sandstone wasn't just a pretty face, it could punch with the big ones. A 1912 report describes some very large blocks obtained in uniform breaks, using hammers and wedges only. One giant was 30 feet x 2 feet x 18" in size, but the report goes on to say that most of the good stone was already removed by that date.
"amethyst-toned voussoirs and stringcourses" dignify
Code's Felt Mill (1902 wing)

and a purply sandstone foundation too, but who would notice?

Blogger Chris recounds a visit to the Hughes Quarry in recent years. Funny, as we drove back and forth from town, we passed Hughes Road. Wonder if that was the route to the quarry which produced this wonderful purple-hued town?

Hope to check it out one day.

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