Crab Orchard Stone

Crab Orchard stone is a rare sandstone quarried from the Crab Orchard Mountain of the Cumberland Plateau. Predominately rose in color, this mottled stone is streaked in irregular patterns by different shades of brown. Its unique and beautiful color was used mostly for chimneys and foundations in the immediate region until the late nineteenth century, when Cumberland County officials built a courthouse with the stone and erected stone curbing and sidewalks in Crossville. During the mid-1920s, Crab Orchard stone gained a more statewide–even national–reputation after architect Henry Hibbs decided to use it as the primary building material for Scarritt College in Nashville. New Deal agencies used the stone extensively in their nationally significant Cumberland Homesteads project. Other contractors throughout Middle Tennessee used the stone in building bungalows and other mid-twentieth-century types of domestic architecture. Since that time, Crab Orchard stone has been used in a wide variety of buildings and locations across the country, including the new Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville. The most concentrated area of Crab Orchard stone buildings, however, remains in Cumberland County, where the courthouse, the old post office, numerous houses, several churches, schools, and the National Register-listed Palace Theater are built with this distinctive material.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Crab Orchard Stone
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
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  • Access Date June 13, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018