Pt.7) Condition of Yule Marble in Other Buildings: Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial, by Elaine S. McGee

An investigation of differences in the durability of the Colorado Yule marble, a widely used building stone. By Elaine S. McGee.

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY BULLETIN 2162

Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial

Abridged and Presented for your enjoyment by Martin Cooney

PART 7) CONDITION OF YULE MARBLE IN OTHER BUILDINGS

U.S. Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey

Colorado Yule Marble — Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial. Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service Colorado Yule Marble — Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial By Elaine S. McGee. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: BRUCE BABBITT, Secretary U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: CHARLES G. GROAT, Director UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1999. Published in the Eastern Region, Reston, Va. For sale by U.S. Geological Survey Information Services Box 25286, Federal Center Denver, CO 80225 Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data. Manuscript approved for publication August 13, 1998.

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Part 7) CONDITION OF YULE MARBLE IN OTHER BUILDINGS

Yule was used on the exterior and interior of many important buildings

In contrast to the situation faced by the Lincoln Memorial Commission, it is now possible to examine the general deterioration features of the Yule marble in a number of buildings of varied ages.  The Lincoln Memorial is probably the most prominent building, nationwide, in which the Colorado Yule marble was used.

However, between 1905 and 1940, the Colorado Yule was used on the exterior and interior of many important buildings and monuments built throughout the United States, and it has also been used nationally and internationally for many small jobs such as private grave markers.

Some of the buildings have been destroyed

Extensive lists of structures that used the stone are provided by several authors (Vanderwilt, 1937; Holmes, 1991; Vandenbusche and Myers, 1991; McCollum, 1993);  however, some of these buildings have changed names or have been taken down.

The conditions of buildings built about the same time as the Lincoln Memorial are of particular interest because some of the stone quarried in 1914–16 that could not be used for the Lincoln Memorial was used in other, smaller jobs.

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The Cheesman Memorial is the oldest Yule marble building in Denver

Six buildings in Denver have Colorado Yule marble on the exterior, and, with the exception of the Cheesman Memorial, they are all located in downtown Denver. The Cheesman Memorial is close to the downtown area, but it is in a park on a small hill; it is also the oldest building (1908) using the Yule stone.

Denver’s Yule marble buildings were constructed between 1914-to-16 and 1930-to-36

The construction dates for the buildings in Denver reflect the history of the Yule quarry, as most were built in two time periods: 1914–16 and 1930–36.

One advantage of examining several buildings in the same city is that climate influences on the buildings should be similar, so variations in deterioration in the buildings are likely to reflect differences in age of the buildings and variability of the stone.

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SUMMARY

Even from a close view the marble is clear and nearly white

The general condition of the Yule marble in the buildings in Denver is very similar to the condition of the marble at the Lincoln Memorial.  When buildings made of Yule marble are viewed as a whole, they appear in good condition, and the stone is white and unblemished.  Even from a close view, the marble is clear and nearly white, and the edges and surfaces appear to retain much of their original crispness.

The inclusions are relatively subtle and show no appreciable difference in their weathering compared to the rest of the stone.  There is little surficial blackening of the stone.

Variations visible in the surface textures of adjacent stones

At the time of this examination, the Denver Post Office building was undergoing a major renovation; it had been cleaned with a high-pressure water spray that had removed all or most of any blackened surficial crusts.  It appears that the slight orange discoloration seen in some stones at the Lincoln Memorial may be typical of the Yule marble because some of the stones in the Denver buildings also have a similar orange discoloration.

A pronounced reddish-orange stain at the Denver Post Office apparently resisted poultice treatments during the cleaning of that building (conversation with one of the workers at the site).  Close examination of some of the stones in various buildings shows that their condition is similar to the condition of the marble at the Lincoln Memorial.  There are variations in the surface textures of adjacent stones in several of these buildings, similar to that seen at the Lincoln Memorial.

Inclusions could not be avoided due to the large stones needed for the column drums

However, the effect is most noticeable at the Cheesman Memorial, where stones that retain crisp tooling marks are adjacent to stones with very sugared surfaces.  Some of the stones in the buildings have slightly grayed “chert” inclusions like some of the stones at the Lincoln Memorial, but they are relatively uncommon.

However, I did not see any of the shallow chalky white inclusion areas like those on the columns at the Lincoln Memorial.  This observation suggests that those inclusions were restricted to the area of the quarry used for the column drums, and they could not be completely avoided when the drums were quarried because of the large sizes needed for those stones.

Few if any of the Denver building’s stones were as large as those for the Lincoln Memorial

Few (if any) of the stones in the Denver buildings are as large as many of the stones in the Lincoln Memorial.  The “rifts” or surficial cracks in the Cheesman Memorial, of such concern during the hearing of the Lincoln Memorial Commission, are still visible on many of the stones in the Cheesman Memorial. However, I did not see this type of crack on any other building.

It seems likely, as Manning implied at the hearing (Lincoln Memorial Commission, 1913), that this feature was present only in some of the top layers of the marble. It is also likely that inspections of the stone on subsequent projects successfully avoided this problem.

Discoloring appears reasonable for the antiquing of marble expected on older buildings

Overall, there are no significant differences in the condition of the marble in buildings of the two age groups (circa 1914 and circa 1930) or in the climate settings of Washington, D.C., and Denver.

Some blocks of marble seen close-up have weathered so they are no longer pure white, but their discoloration seems reasonable for the “antiquing of marble” that might be expected on an older building.

Inclusions present in the marble hardly visible from a distance over 10 feet

Inclusions are present in the marble but are not particularly noticeable on the buildings unless close inspection is made.  Most significantly, visible variations in surface sugaring of the marble are present in all of the buildings examined.  However, the variations are noticeable mostly only upon close examination; the sugaring and softening of the surface is not particularly visible from a distance of more than 10 ft.

Differences in climate, particularly cycles of moisture and temperature that the marble experiences in Washington, D.C., have not had a significant effect on the weathering of the Yule marble.

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An investigation of differences in the durability of the Colorado Yule marble, a widely used building stone. By Elaine S. McGee.

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY BULLETIN 2162

Building Stone of the Lincoln Memorial

Abridged and Presented for your enjoyment by Martin Cooney

PART 7) CONDITION OF YULE MARBLE IN OTHER BUILDINGS

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Coming Soon

Part 8) CONCLUSION

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The Story of Colorado Yule Marble at martincooney.com

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