Unearthing History: Rocky Mountain Stone’s Role in Building New Mexico’s Capitol with Travertine Marble

New Mexico is renowned for its rich geological diversity, and one of its prized natural resources is travertine marble. This unique form of limestone has been used in construction and architecture for centuries due to its durability and exquisite beauty. How have travertine and Rocky Mountain Stone intertwined to leave their mark on history? Let’s find out!

A Brief History of Travertine Mining in New Mexico

New Mexico’s geothermal activity has made it a treasure trove for this light-colored sedimentary rock. As demand for travertine grew, so did the New Mexico mining industry.

In 1958, a travertine deposit was found in New Mexico approximately 20 miles directly west of Belen, NM. At that time, a very prominent and wealthy uranium miner named Charlie Steen decided to invest in the original quarry and fabrication company. Rocky Mountain Stone soon became involved with this life-changing opportunity. In 1976, Vincent J. Lardner, Jr., the owner of Rocky Mountain Stone Co. in Albuquerque, purchased the travertine rights to the quarry. He started to quarry the material in earnest at that time and built a small shop at Rocky Mountain Stone to process blocks of travertine into slabs to be used for vanity tops, hearths, and fireplace surrounds.

Rocky Mountain Stone: A Pillar in New Mexico’s Architectural Legacy

Rocky Mountain Stone was established in early 1963 and quickly gained a reputation for superior craftsmanship and commitment to delivering quality stone products. In 1983, Vincent J. Lardner Jr. and his five sons Tim, David, Scott, Jim, and John, built a new processing facility in Belen, NM, and started the company New Mexico Travertine at that time. With new Italian cutting and finishing equipment in place, the plant was state of the art and the only processing facility of its kind in the western U.S.

Over the years, we’ve built our knowledge and connections to make sure that we only work with the best materials, forging strong partnerships with renowned architects and builders in New Mexico. These collaborations resulted in iconic structures throughout the state, showcasing the beauty and versatility of travertine marble. One of the most notable projects was the construction of the New Mexico State Capitol Building.

The New Mexico State Capitol Building Project

The construction of the New Mexico State Capitol Building was a significant undertaking that required meticulous planning and attention to detail. The capitol building was designed to reflect the rich history and cultural heritage of the state–as the oldest capital city in the U.S. Santa Fe was due to have something special.

Travertine in the Capitol Building

Travertine was selected for the Capitol Building due to its ability to withstand the test of time and its unique aesthetic appeal. The creamy beige hues of the stone complemented the surrounding landscape and exuded a sense of grandeur and elegance. Although the Capitol Building was completed in 1966, remodeling became necessary as time marched on. That’s where Rocky Mountain Stone came in to save the day.

Rocky Mountain Stone’s Pivotal Role in the Capitol Project

Rocky Mountain Stone provided the highest quality natural stone for the project when remodeling started in 1992. As part of the remodel, nearly 15,000 sq.ft. of new travertine was used to clad the columns in the rotunda, provide new door surrounds for the more prominent offices, and for the base along the walls of all the hallways throughout the building. There is over a mile of 16” travertine base in the entire building.

Our expertise ensured that the stone was carefully extracted, processed, and delivered to meet the exacting standards of the architects and builders. It was truly a family affair: Tim Lardner oversaw the quarrying and selection of blocks to be used for the project. David Lardner and Jim Lardner were responsible for meticulous layouts and cutting that allowed for floor-to-ceiling matching of all the travertine panels used on the rotunda columns. Scott Lardner oversaw the on-site project coordination and install management and John Lardner kept the books for Rocky Mountain Stone.

Through the entrepreneurial spirit of Vincent J. Lardner, Jr. and the entire Lardner family, the complete process of quarrying, cutting, finishing, and installing the New Mexico Travertine, to grace the walls of the New Mexico Capitol Building, was realized.

Call Rocky Mountain Stone

Today, we’re proud to continue being a leading stone provider. While the Capitol Building is one of our proudest accomplishments, we’re just as thrilled to bring that level of professionalism into your home. If you’re looking for high-profile work on a small scale, reach out today! Our team will be happy to discuss your project, integrate travertine stone or a wide selection of other natural stones into your home, and bring your dream to life.

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