Category Archives: Articles

The Many Uses of Stone: Unveiling the Versatility of Masonry Masterpieces

the benjamin hotel sign

The Benjamin Hotel

When it comes to timeless elegance and enduring strength, there’s no material quite like stone. As a stoneworking company, we have witnessed the incredible versatility of stone in various construction and design projects. From historic monuments to modern residential structures, stone has played a significant role in shaping our architectural landscape.

We wanted to take the opportunity to explore the many uses of stone in masonry.

Ways to Use Stone for Businesses and Homes

  • Facades: Stone facades exude a sense of sophistication. The customization options are endless and natural stone elevates the curb appeal of residential and commercial buildings alike, making a lasting impression on visitors and passersby.
  • Foundations: A strong foundation is necessary for maintaining stability. Stone is an inherently strong and durable base that can ensure longevity.
  • Fireplaces & Chimneys:  Stone fireplaces and chimneys bring a cozy charm and warmth to interior spaces. From rustic to modern designs, stone-clad hearths remain a beloved focal point.
  • Gardens: Use stone in patios, pathways, retaining walls, and water features to add natural beauty and functionality to outdoor spaces.
  • Kitchens: Incorporating stone into kitchens, especially outdoor kitchens, has become increasingly popular. From granite countertops to stone oven surrounds, stone elements bring durability and elegance to alfresco cooking spaces.
kitchen tops

Imperial Danby Honed Marble Kitchen Counter

In addition to stone being versatile, it also is sustainable. It has a long lifespan and requires minimal maintenance. We especially love working with it because it gives us the ability to create intricate architectural details.

Check out our gallery to see some of our past projects.

Fordham University Seal

Carving and Installing Limestone Work at Fordham University

We recently were contacted by Fordham University who was looking to add two Limestone carvings into their Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, NY.

We hand-carved a cross that was 10 ft by 8 ft and a University Seal that had a 12 feet diameter. It took us a few months to carve the cross and the seal at our Mount Vernon, NY facility. But once they were ready, we installed them in less than a week at the new McShane Campus Center at Fordham University.

Get a close look at how they turned out:


The Story of Stone

Have you ever wondered about the journey that natural stone takes before it is used in a building or furniture? The truth is, the stone’s travels are quite impressive. In a previous blog post, we told you about Frank and Ralph Petrillo’s trip to Italy where they visited the quarry from which Petrillo Stone Corporation sources much of its stone. A recent article on Dwell told a similar story, and we just had to share.

This article tells the story behind a Saarinen marble table top, from quarry, to the Knoll Inc factory, to the home or office. The story gives you an appreciation for this type of craftsmanship as well as the high quality products. Read the full story on Dwell.

Below, find some photos from the quarry in Italy that Frank and Ralph visited.

national mall in washington dc

The Battle Between Park and Memorial

national mall in washington dcThe National Mall in Washington, DC is filled to the brim with monuments, statues, and memorials of all types. Pershing Park has officially been a part of these monuments since 1957, when it was named after John J. Pershing, General of the Armies in World War I. As different groups proposed competing memorial ideas for the space, it actually sat untouched and gathering garbage. The indecision continued until 1963, when officials planted grass and flowers to add new life to the square.

In that same year, a plan was proposed to redevelop the area between the White House and the United States Capitol. Although the original plan was altered, it did lead to the construction of Freedom Plaza, adjacent to Pershing Park. Both were constructed simultaneously from 1979 to 1981. The landscape at Pershing Park was designed by M. Paul Friedberg, recent recipient of the American Society of Landscape Architect’s highest honor, the ASLA Medal. The park contains a memorial to John J. Pershing, as well as several memorial benches and walls that describe his many accomplishments. In addition, Pershing Park contains many of Friedberg’s now signature design elements, such as a sunken plaza filled with water (frozen for ice skating in the winter) surrounded by amphitheater style seating, a waterfall made out of rock-cut granite, as well as plenty of greenery. Today, Pershing Park is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. However, recent plans may diminish its chances.

The Future of Pershing Park

In recent years, Pershing Park has been declining, with mechanical issues in the skating rink and adverse vegetation growth. In response to these maintenance issues, a competition has been announced for a World War I Memorial in the spot currently occupied by Pershing Park. What this means for Pershing Park is currently unclear — though many landscape architects are convinced the language of the competition leans toward demolition of the existing park rather than renovation. You can read more on this story from the Huffington Post.

The five finalists in the design competition were recently announced, you can find them here. We were impressed by the visions of these architects, even though it could potentially mean changing a piece of our history. What are your thoughts on the great Pershing Park/National World War 1 Memorial debate? We want to know!

Petrillo Stone Corp Featured in Building Stone Magazine

1095 Avenue of Americas Lobby

Photo from Building Stone Magazine of the lobby at 1095 Avenue of Americas

At the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan is the 1095 Avenue of Americas Plaza, a site that has quickly become a high traffic site in NYC. The plaza is essentially the front door for a commercial office building that serves as MetLife’s corporate headquarters. Because of the threat of wear caused by tons of foot traffic as well as some harsh weather, the design for this site had to be both durable and beautiful.

Building Stone Magazine recently documented this process in its Spring 2015 issue. In this project, Petrillo Stone Corporation was responsible for furnishing and installing the stone used for the building lobby, elevator lobbies, and concourse — a total of 7,400 square feet of material. The Santucci group supplied and fabricated the Joya White Carrara marble used for the walls and countertops, as well as the white terrazzo flooring. The stone is unique due to its white background with very thin gray veining. These light colors were used because the original entrance to the lobby was described as “tunnel-like,” and a white background gave it a more open feel.

The following is an excerpt from the article, “Meeting The Demands Of A Busy Northeastern Environment,” in which our very own Frank Petrillo describes the job.

As a whole, the installation process went smoothly, but Petrillo found difficulties with the lobby because the building remained in use. “The installation took place in an occupied building so we basically installed sections at a time so we didn’t disturb the tenants,” said Frank Petrillo of Petrillo Stone Corporation. “It’s a very busy building. There were certain areas, such as the elevators, that were done at night. This prevented us from interrupting the flow of traffic. We did the other areas during the day. We had to fence it off so that people could get by while we were working.”

You can see the whole article in Building Stone Magazine’s online publication on page 70. Below are some screen shots of the article which display the lobby.

washington cathedral

Washington National Cathedral Completes First Round of Earthquake Renovations

washington cathedral In 2011, the Washington National Cathedral suffered extensive damage from an earthquake. As it is a solid masonry structure that took over 83 years to construct, the repair process has been long and expensive. Recently, the cathedral finished up its first phase of repairs which cost about $10 million.

Now, repair crews are heading onto the even more daunting and expensive second phase. This phase will focus on the exterior of the building, such as damaged gargoyles and twisting pinnacles. All in all, the second phase could take a decade and cost $22 million.

According to the director of preservation and facilities, you really can’t tell the extent of the damage from the ground. Jim Shepherd told the Religion News Service that it’s not until he takes visitors to the cathedral’s heights that they truly understand the cost of the repairs. While the price may seem high, it’s amazing to think that the entire cathedral was made and is being repaired by hand.

Washington National Cathedral

To provide some detail, we visited the cathedral’s website to learn more about its architectural history. Here’s what we found:

Primary building material: Indiana limestone

Construction dates: September 29, 1901 – September 29, 1990

Architects: (1907) George Frederick Bodley, (1907–1917) Henry Vaughan, (1921–1944) Frohman, Robb & Little, (1944–1972) Philip H. Frohman

Total weight: 150,000 tons

Total area: 83,012 sq. ft.

Ponte Rotto: The Bridge to Nowhere

You’re probably familiar with the great architecture of Rome, like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Millions of tourists flock to the city each year just to catch a glimpse of these great works. However, you may not have heard of the Ponte Rotto, or broken bridge.

Originally named the Pons Aemilius, it was built in 179 B.C. and is one of the only remaining examples of Roman Republican architecture. It was constructed to connect the cattle farm on the eastern bank with Trastevere on the western bank. However, no one has been able to cross it since Christmas Eve 1598, when floods carried the eastern part away.

Ancient Stone Masonry in the Ponte Rotto

What was really remarkable, though, was that it was one of the first stone Roman bridges. At the time, bridges were wooden and entirely supported on timber piles. Instead, the Pons Aemilius was constructed of a wooden roadbed, supported by five stone pillars.

The stone used was locally quarrified volcanic tufa, a form of volcanic ash. The stone was laid in ashlar masonry style, or an interlocking style of horizontal and vertical slabs set in parallel courses. To learn about the construction of the Pons Aemilius, more famously known as the Ponte Rotto, you can check out this detailed article by The Wall Street Journal.

The Ponte Rotto has a rich history of rebuilding and reconstruction, and has been witness to major events in Roman history. Throughout it all, it’s been a reminder of the past and a point of interest for artists through the ages.

philadelphia city hall

Philadelphia City Hall: One of the World’s Largest All-Masonry Buildings

philadelphia city hallIf you’ve ever been downtown in Philadelphia, there’s no question that you’ve noticed City Hall. The remarkable, French Renaissance-style building is breathtaking and easily identifiable, thanks to William Penn gracing the structure’s top.

You may also know that when plans for construction began in 1871, City Hall was intended to be the tallest structure in the world at 548 feet tall. Unfortunately, construction of the Eiffel Tower  and Washington Monument ruined that dream before City Hall’s construction ended. However, neither of those structures were used as buildings so Philadelphia’s City Hall remained the world’s tallest occupied building until 1909, when the Metropolitan Life Building was built in New York.

Traditional Stone Masonry

The reason that City Hall still strikes us at Petrillo Stone Corporation as legendary is the fact that is an all-masonry, load bearing building — and still one of the largest in the world. Most of the seemingly stone buildings we see today actually have a support frame built of steel and iron. This building, however, is made of brick and covered in white marble and granite. It has walls up to 22 feet thick at the base to support its immense weight.

Because this type of construction is so time-consuming and expensive, most designers have virtually abandoned load-bearing structures over the last century. City Hall took 30 years and over 24 million dollars to complete. This is a beautiful example of pure stone masonry that has rightfully earned its spot as the center of a historic city.