Crab Orchard Flagstone History


Named after the first established community in the unsettled American Wilderness in 1797, Crab Orchard stone is making its mark on the nation’s architectural history. From the king to presidents to national buildings, the spectacular beauty and versatility of Crab Orchard sandstone makes it one of the most sought after architectural building stones in the country. But that’s not the way the story began.

When quarries began pulling stone from the Cumberland Plateau in the early 1900’s, builders demanded softer sandstone. The harder, more beautiful Crab Orchard stone was considered worthless scrap. It wasn’t until 1925, when noted Southern architect Henry Hibbs used Crab Orchard stone as the primary building material in the Gothic Revival chapel at Scarritt College in Nashville that the stone captured the attention of the nation’s architects and builders. Since then Crab Orchard stone has been used in such prominent places as the Vice President’s mansion, the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C., Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park residence pool and even Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion.

Formed over the centuries in only one place on earth — the Cumberland Plateau — Crab Orchard stone is an especially hard, weather resistant variety of sandstone due to unusually high concentrations of silica. The stone’s exclusive buff, tan, blue-gray and pink colors were created by a mixture of iron, titanium and magnesium. And the yellow and brown swirls that give the stone its one-of-a-kind appearance come from iron stains and natural weathering.