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Hammers on Stone

The granite quarrying business, like the fishing industry, offered a steady stream of jobs from the 1830s through 1930. At first, workers were found amongst the local population; however, as operations took hold and production increased, additional laborers from off Cape Ann were required. During the 1840s and 1850s, able-bodied men who were willing to take on the difficult and dangerous work associated with harvesting granite from the ground, filtered into Gloucester and Rockport from around New England. Many had no experience in the field, although some - particularly those hailing from areas such as Quincy (Massachusetts) and central Vermont - had already worked cutting stone. For much of the 19th century, work was seasonal and men returned to their homes when winter weather slowed operations.

In the years leading up to and immediately following the Civil War, the granite industry continued to expand and laborers began arriving here from around the world - including the Canadian Maritimes, Ireland, Sweden and Italy. Granite historian Barbara Erkkila recounts that the first Finns arrived in this area in the early 1870s, relocating here from Boston and quickly coming to be the face of the industry. Most were young men without families in this country. As their numbers increased, they began congregating in the village of Lanesville on the north side of Cape Ann, finding work in the quarries and living accommodations in boarding houses. In time, families were reunited or established and roots were put down in the community. Like all immigrants, the Finns brought with them the customs and traditions of their homeland, their own distinctive pastimes, music, religion and foods. Social life gravitated around Wainola Hall, built in 1897, and the Finnish Church (later St. Paul’s Lutheran Church). It is estimated that over 2,000 Finns had settled in Lanesville and surrounding neighborhoods by the early 20th century, endowing the area with a distinctively Finnish flavor. Learn about the art colony of Lanesville and Folly Cove.

Learn about the art colony of Lanesville and Folly Cove.

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