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Hokie Stone is a dolomite limestone whose varied gray, brown, black, pink, orange, and maroon coloring is unique to Southwestern Virginia due to high levels of manganese and iron ore. The stone is named for the Hokie mascot of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where the stone is the primary finishing material on campus buildings. When quarried, all stones appear to be the same dull grey color, but after weathering effects of rain, sun and oxidation, the colors become more pronounced with each stone appearing to be a different color.[1]

80% of the stone is quarried from a 40-acre (160,000 m2) University owned quarry a few miles from campus. 25-30 Virginia Tech employees use black powder each day to dislodge the stone into block sizes required by campus construction projects and finish the blocks by hand using hammers and chisels. The remaining 20% of stone is mined once per year from an additional quarry located on a local farm. The university owned quarry has been in operation since the 1950s[1][2]

History

When the university was founded in 1872, buildings were simple brick constructions, reflecting the architecture of Blacksburg at that time. In 1901 the YMCA Building (now the Performing Arts Building) was the first to be constructed of Hokie Stone, in 1917 McBryde Hall introduced the Hokie Stone clad neo-gothic style which became the official architecture of the campus. During the 60's and 70's, concrete and brick structures absent of Hokie Stone such as Dietrick Hall and Cassell Coliseum were built. In 1983 the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors required that some Hokie Stone be incorporated into the construction of every new building on campus.[3] Today each campus project uses an average of 1,500 tons of Hokie Stone, with each ton of stone covering only 30-35 square feet.[1][3]

In additional to building exteriors, Hokie Stone is used in important monuments such as biographical markers outside each campus building providing a brief history of the person which the building is named for. 32 Hokie Stones were quarried by university stonemasons and engraved with the names of students and professors killed in the April 2007 school shooting. The memorial is a permanent version of one created spontaneously by students with smaller stones.[4] The Virginia Tech football team enters the playing field through a tunnel with an exit topped by a block of Hokie Stone which is touched by each player.[5]

See also

References

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