3 generations of
reclaimed granite curbstone
The beauty of reclaimed granite curbstone begins with its history. For centuries granite curbstone has lined the streets of cities throughout the northeast. Granite’s utility, durability, and beauty imparts unique New England character to our roadways. Periodically, as roadways are resurfaced, older worn and weathered curbstone is replaced with newly quarried sawn curbstone with sharp edges, consistent shape profile, color, and color pattern.
The old curbstone is reclaimed, carrying its history with it to new locations and uses. Its beauty and character are undeniable and its durability guarantees that it will be enjoyed for generations. The rounded edges and weathered, worn surfaces of reclaimed granite curbstone are layered over the variations of the underlying granite.
Reclaimed curbstone was originally hand-hewn from the many regional granite quarries and the resulting curbstones reflect the color characteristics of each quarry. Although all granites are durable and freeze-thaw resistant, they vary in color and color pattern depending on the source quarry.
We categorize our reclaimed granite by color, speckle size, mineral inclusion frequency, and most importantly, by the date of its original fabrication. We separate the fabrication dates, which span the last two centuries, into three generations. Each of these has its own physical characteristics derived from its method of fabrication—hand-hewn first generation to the fully mechanized production of third generation.
First Generation Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
The earliest curbstone dates from the late 1700s through the mid 1800s. This curbstone comes in various sizes but is generally 18 inches high, by 6 to 8 inches thick at the top, and a variety of lengths, as originally specified. 8 to 10 foot lengths are common. Less common is what we classify as jumbo curbstone, which is approximately 24 inches high with some very long pieces.
As originally installed, the tops are textured by hand, not sawn flat. Historically, the texture was applied by hammering, chiseling, or other impact methods to make the top generally flat but textured. The street-facing side plane is a reasonably flat textured split-face. The sidewalk-facing plane is often a coarse and irregular split-face.
On some samples a few inches near the top of the sidewalk side is profiled to sit flush with sidewalk pavers or paving. The overall width typically increases near the bottom of the curb and there are drill marks near the bottom from the original splitting. The granite colors and color patterns vary widely even within the same municipality, since different quarries may have provided the stone over time. Environmental staining, wear, and painting also add to the character of the curbstone.
Second Generation Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
During the mid 1800s to early 1900s, as mechanization became more prevalent in quarries, the curbstone produced was more regular in shape and the tops were sawn rather than worked by hand. There was still hand finishing applied to the other sides, producing a more finished product. The variety of granite colors and color patterns persists and the sizes run generally the same as first generation curbstone, although the depth of the curbstone is more consistent top to bottom. Drill marks are evident on the bottom.
The more regular or flatter surfaces allows second generation to be more useful for surfaces where foot traffic is planned. The sawn tops also allow tighter joints. This stone has lots of character developed by years of hard use on the streets of the industrial revolution era mill cities of New England. More unique pieces like manhole surrounds, storm drain cutouts, and radius curves are some of more limited items we find.
Third Generation Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
Third generation is the most highly machined version of reclaimed granite curbstone. Fine sawn tops and bottoms and split-faced flat-plane faces are its distinguishing characteristics. Right angles abound on this machine split granite. Third generation is generally 6 inches thick by 18 inches high but other thicknesses are not uncommon, especially 4 inch thick.
The most predominant color is light gray with a very fine speckled salt and pepper pattern. The oldest curbstone in this category dates from the 1930s. Improved methods for handling, sawing, and processing became common in regional quarries after the Great Depression, and the finished product was and still is this refined curbstone.
Weathering and staining vary depending on where and how long the curb was used before reclamation. In some cases, third generation curbstone has not been used previously and comes from project overage or damage. In any case, it’s a wonderful product for modern projects or where very flat, smooth installations with very tight joints are desired.
As with the other generations of curbstone, color and color pattern vary regionally and by quarry of origin. In some cases, the smoother finish of third generation reveals the granite’s color and color patterns more clearly than the rough-hewn generations, revealing more movement or other unique characteristics.
The Many Uses of Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
The Many Uses of
Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
The uses for reclaimed granite curbstone are abundant. By design, curbstone makes great edging and borders for gardens, driveways, walkways and of course, roads. But it can be sawn into veneer and planks, used as is for steps and pavers, and it makes great driveway aprons. It can be used as pool coping, wall caps (in either full thickness or sawn to spec), wall stone, foundation stone, and landscape architectural accents. It can also be split into posts, columns, or smaller pavers. What can’t be done with this stuff?
Which generation you use depends on the project. Surface definition, thickness, size requirements and the look and feel are equally important. For example, first generation curbstone may not provide the best walking surface for high heels but could be perfect for pool coping where a non-skid surface is required.
Size & Scale of Reclaimed Granite Curbstone
We offer reclaimed granite curbstone in several different sizes and have a wide range of products. The lengths of these curbstones vary greatly even though the thicknesses are generally 6 and 8 inches for all. The width/height of our jumbo curbstone is 24 inches wide/high or greater. What we call junior curbstone is typically around 12 inches wide/high.
Our standard sizes average about 18 inches wide/high with standard thicknesses of 6 to 8 inches. Note that the first and second generation curbstone can be much thicker in what was below grade than the thickness of the hand-finished tops. The street-facing face tended to be somewhat flatter than the sidewalk face.
We also offer gauged plank pavers that are half-thickness, an especially popular product in the third generation curbstone. We have over 20 reclaimed granite curbstone products and materials for sale. Check out all of our reclaimed curbstone products by doing a stone search using the term “curbstone” (or something similar). The result is really quite impressive!
Which generation you use depends on the project. Surface definition, thickness, size requirements, and the look and feel are equally important. For example, first generation curbstone may not provide the best walking surface for high heels but could be perfect for pool coping where a non-skid surface is required.
Using Reclaimed Curbstone in Your Project
If it’s not already obvious that reclaimed granite curbstone would be a great fit for a huge variety of projects, consider the following:
- It looks really cool. It has beautiful worn and weathered surfaces. Each piece is unique and carries its own history.
- It has already been quarried and processed so you won’t be adding much more carbon to the production footprint since it is truly a recycled/reused product.
- It’s locally sourced in the northeast, which means you can get it faster and costs less to ship if you’re in the area.
- It can easily be sawn or split to spec.
- There are many colors and surface characteristics are available.
- It has a reasonable cost compared with custom cut quarried granite.
We hope you’ve got a better understanding of first, second, and third generation granite curbstone and its many uses now. Bluestone is also commonly used for curbing in some regions but that’s for another time.