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Basswood Island | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

Basswood Island

National or State Register of Historic Places
Basswood Island | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Bass Island Brownstone Company Quarry (Boundary Expansion and Additional Documentation)
Reference Number:16000241
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):Basswood Island
County:Ashland
City/Village:
Township:La Pointe
SUMMARY
Bass Island Brownstone Company Quarry (Boundary Expansion and Additional Documentation)
Bass Island, Ashland County

Spanning the era marked by the end of the Civil War until the beginning of the twentieth century, brownstone quarrying around Chequamegon Bay and on the Apostle Islands became one of the most important industries in the region. Brownstone was used to build massive stone buildings in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Detroit, and Milwaukee. The stone quarries of Chequamegon Bay became an important source of this popular construction material in the late nineteenth century, transforming Ashland and Bayfield into thriving hinterland communities that supported the quarrying industry. Although many brownstone quarries developed on the Bayfield Peninsula, brownstone from the Apostle Island quarries was consistently rated among the most beautiful and pure of the brownstones in the country. The quarries’ close proximity to the waters of Lake Superior made transportation of the massive blocks relatively easy and inexpensive (Eckert 2000).

Although brownstone quarrying on the Apostle Islands was a booming industry, production varied as boom and bust economic cycles occurred. By 1893, the popularity of brownstone began a steady decline. The great economic downturn in that year made the construction of brownstone buildings too expensive for many builders, stylistic tastes changed and the use of structural iron and steel expanded. Despite this, quarrying operations on the islands were maintained until 1897 when the last island quarry, on Presque Isle - today’s Stockton Island - halted operations (Apostle Islands National Lakeshore 2004).

The Bass Island Brownstone Company’s quarry opened in 1868. The property was originally developed by Milwaukee industrialist, Alanson Sweet and partners, before changing hands and names many times over, and closing in 1893 following a downturn in the U.S. economy and a move by architects away from using brownstone in the construction of buildings. The site provides a unique opportunity to study quarrying operations and examine the industry’s link with maritime transportation. Piers and dock structures like those located adjacent to the Bass Island Brownstone Company’s quarry were a vital component of the brownstone industry. The docks were used to load large blocks of brownstone and to off-load supplies for the quarry’s operations.

PROPERTY FEATURES
Period of Significance:1868-1893
Area of Significance:Industry
Area of Significance:Archeology/Historic - Non-Aboriginal
Applicable Criteria:Event
Applicable Criteria:Information Potential
Historic Use:Industry/Processing/Extraction: Extractive Facility
Resource Type:Site
Architect:Sweet, Alanson
DESIGNATIONS
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
National Register Listing Date:05/10/2016
State Register Listing Date:11/20/2015
NUMBER OF RESOURCES WITHIN PROPERTY
Number of Contributing Buildings:0
Number of Contributing Sites:1
Number of Contributing Structures:2
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:1
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:2
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
RECORD LOCATION
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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National Register of Historic Places Citation
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