The inspiration for the re-imagining of Dartmouth College’s treasured Moosilauke Ravine Lodge in Warren, New Hampshire was all about bridging the past and present. Think: A new look with the same old soul. To keep in line with its North Country heritage, the historic lodge was outfitted with the same kind of rustic charm as its former structure, but it also had to meet Dartmouth’s standards for low maintenance and functional elegance.
To accomplish this ambitious, enviable goal, Dartmouth needed the perfect partner. Enter, Swenson Granite Works.
Like many of the materials used to build the new lodge, the white pine timber and cedar logs were locally sourced in state. The Woodbury Gray granite provided by Swenson Granite Works was quarried nearby in Vermont. Dennis Ames, Swenson’s Concord Store Manager, stepped in to help bring the project to life and shepherd it through the design and building process. “It’s always great working on projects open to the public”, Ames said, “especially knowing that it was going to be a lodge that people could visit year round.”
Woodbury Gray granite steps and irregular slabs outside the lodge.
Creating timeless and lasting designs with local materials is a challenge that Swenson Granite Works takes on with pride. What makes a project like this even more satisfying for Swenson’s craftspeople is having the opportunity to work alongside other skilled professionals in the community.
“It was a rather extraordinary project,” said Joe Rolfe of Stone Mountain Masonry. “Swenson is always terrific to work with – total professionals, timely with my orders which is always the critical component. And the quality is always superb.”
Woodbury Gray granite used as basement headers
Standing in perfect contrast to the warmth of the lodge’s hand-carved wooden designs is Swenson’s cool, timeless Woodbury Gray granite used inside for the interior staircase, basement headers and fireplace hearth. Outside, the granite was used for the chimney cap, exterior steps, patio and walkway.
Woodbury Gray granite steps go up to both of the atrium patio decks inside the building. There is also a staircase that runs through the large center chimney. “The design for this staircase with Maclay Architects and Joe Rolfe of Stone Mountain Masonry was pretty awesome to say the least, as far as figuring out and calculating how we were going to make this work,” Ames said.
The steps have a thermal chamfered front edge and had to be made a little bit longer to be built into the stonework. There were a lot of things to take into consideration, as the stairs go up, land, and then turn 90 degrees, then go up again 90 degrees to the right and then 90 degrees to the left. The staircase also slopes back on the bottom. “It was imperative for us to make sure that they were made correctly so that each end or base that was visible was finished correctly with the same angle as well as the same radius nosing,” Ames said.
Both of the landings needed to be installed first because it was impossible to get them into the structure after the stonework had begun. So Rolfe and his crew rolled them in on steel wheel dollies, got them into position, hoisted them with chains falls, propped them up with shoring, and then literally worked under them until they reached that point.
Outside, irregular granite slabs were used for the patio and walkway. Landscape contractor Peter S. Jensen & Associates purchased Swenson Granite Work’s larger slabs and shaped them to look more irregular on site. He also used some skin slabs from Swenson – the outside slab cut from our block of granite when it comes out of the quarry.
Constructing the chimney had some unique challenges for Rolfe. There is a steel structure that the chimney is built around, and it carries the entire timber frame ridgeline roof load. The structure itself is all wrapped in stone. “It was an engineering marvel,” said Rolfe. “The engineer who did it really did an exceptional design.”
Putting the Woodbury Gray granite chimney cap together was also a challenge. It is a 4-piece cap measuring about 17 ft by 9 ft. Each piece needed to be the same thickness with matching finishes so that it appeared to be in one piece when formed.
Challenges aside, all professionals involved with this project had the chance to flex their creative muscles and put their skills and expertise to w ork in the creation of the lodge — a team effort that truly paid off in the end. “I wasn’t fully aware of the magnitude or scale of the project until the start of production,” Ames said. “It is a tremendous design.”
Interested in learning more about the granite steps used in this project? Our steps and treads spec sheet will show you options for stone types, colors, sizes, weights, finishes and styles. Download here.