Building Stone Magazine Fall 2012 : Page 48

New York granite reflects timeless beauty Using a blend of granite from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, the design of a private residence in Saratoga Springs, NY, captures the essence of its natural surroundings BY JENNIFER ADAMS 48 | FALL 2012 — Building Stone Magazine

New York Granite Reflects Timeless Beauty

Jennifer Adams

Using a blend of granite from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, the design of a private residence in Saratoga Springs, NY, captures the essence of its natural surroundings

An expansive private residence in Saratoga Springs, NY, projects a warm, classic look with a blend of local granite throughout its exterior design. Quarried at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Whitehall, NY, “Dolph Pond” and “Adirondack” granites — supplied by Adirondack Natural Stone, LLC — contribute to the home’s overall feel of rustic elegance and secure the structure to its beautiful country surroundings.

“They wanted a classic design with a very high level of detailing and traditional appeal,” explained architect Michael Szemansco of Synthesis LLP in Schenectady, NY, adding that the residence was new construction. “We worked with the homeowners, who expressed that stone was absolutely a primary consideration. They wanted stone in the design. They like the durability of it, its high-quality nature and the beauty of it.

“The homeowners knew the mason, [John Abrahamson of Abrahamson Masonry LLC in Argyle, NY], from a previous project,” Szemansco went on to say. “So, John was familiar with them. As an architect, I knew the general kind of look that I wanted — nice earth tones, but with some color variation.”

Abrahamson explained that 10 years prior he had worked on a new house for the homeowner’s parents. “Over the years, I have done work for their family,” he said. “They are really great people to do business with. They want the best you can do, and they understand cost. They think it is alright to spend money as long as they get a great product.”

According to the mason, the Saratoga Springs residence was built for a couple and their three children. “Actually, they had their third baby while the house was being built,” he said. “They were pretty big on stone. It was used on his parents’ house — although they used full thickness, and this is thin veneer.

“A lot of the stone selection came about from what was used on his dad’s place,” Abrahamson went on to explain. “They liked that stone and that look. That’s what they wanted me to replicate.”


Adirondack Natural Stone supplied roughly 7,000 square feet of flats and just under 700 linear feet of corners of Dolph Pond and Adirondack granite in square and rectangular formats. The sizing was the company’s standard blend — ranging between ¼ square feet up to 3 square feet.

“Adirondack puts out a nice product,” said Abrahamson. “We were trying to do 60% blue and 40% brown in Adirondack variety. We pretty much stuck with that. It is difficult when you see the guys sawing the stone and putting it on the palette to know if they were consequentially heavy on blue and brown — you just hope it all evens out.”

The mason explained that the outstanding level of customer service that Adirondack Natural Stone provided helped to make the job run smoothly. “They are very accommodating,” he said. “We would ask for larger pieces, and we were specific on color, and they would give it to us. We had to keep ordering stone because we didn’t order it all at once. We would call and say what color we needed, and Adirondack would supply it. If André [Hagadorn, founder of Adirondack Natural Stone,] says he is going to do something, he does it. He’s the kind of guy that if he shakes your hand, you know he will do it.”

The thin stone veneer pieces clad a majority of the face of the home as well as the lower portion of the back of the house. Moreover, the veneer was employed for four chimneys, along with the pillars at the front door as well as ones that anchor a gate stationed at the entrance to the driveway. Other applications include stairs, risers and an outdoor barbecue and fireplace.

The mix of the blue and brown stone pieces creates a rich warm look and nicely complements the white trim and beige siding used on the upper portion of the residence.

Additionally, fabricated Hawthorne granite hearths, lintels and shelves were also incorporated into the home’s design, including the countertop at the outdoor barbecue.


To install the thin veneer stone pieces, a layer of tar paper was first put on the wall, followed by wire lath and then a scratch coat of mortar. The veneer was then secured over that. “We were looking for a pretty tight joint — about ½ inch, which is the industry standard,” said Abrahamson.

The mason explained that there are benefits to using thin stone veneer over full thickness pieces. “With full thickness stone being 3 to 5 inches thick compared to ¾- to 1¼-inch-thick veneer, you can move on a lot quicker,” he explained. “It probably saves us about half the time, and if you are just doing a basic pattern across the whole wall, you can’t tell the difference.”

Abrahamson also explained the advantage of using thin stone veneer for tall structures. “This project was two stories at the gable over the garage and the owner’s office,” he said. “The thin veneer was even more beneficial on staging. It was a lot less labor to get the material up there — and less heavy. [Also], we were able to stack those stones so they were standing up on their end. It was like stacking cards like a bookend. This allowed us to see the sizes we wanted. We could itemize the pieces and not have to shuffle through a pile looking for the size we need.”

Expanding further on Abrahamson’s thoughts, Dana Grant of Adirondack Natural Stone agreed that thin stone veneer can save time and money. “Many people are buying products from afar, so right off the get-go, shipping is a huge savings,” he explained. “One palette of thin veneer is 200 square feet and less than 3,000 pounds, while full thickness is about 75 square feet and weighs 4,000 pounds.”


According to Abrahamson, he started out with a crew of three installers and had up to five by the end of the project. “It was a pretty straightforward [job],” he said. “Initially, we really thought that we might have an issue with timing, as far as our work being done before the project was completed. It turned out that I was done and out several months before the house was completed.”

In total, the stone was installed over a period of a year and a half, although the masons were not on the jobsite for periods of time as other trades completed their work. “John Abrahamson is one of the best masons,” said Szemansco. “He is very meticulous and does a beautiful job. He makes my job look good.”

The architect said that he was onsite every other week for meetings. “It was one of the first times that I have worked with 1-inch veneer stone, and it did not pose any restrictions,” he said. “It made the stonework more affordable, and the mason could work the stone faster. Working with 1-inch veneer made the job easier.”

According to both the architect and mason, the homeowners were very pleased with the end result. “They were really happy with it,” said Abrahamson.

Private Residence Saratoga Springs, NY

Architect: Synthesis LLP, Schenectady, NY
Stone Mason: Abrahamson Masonry LLC, Argyle, NY
Stone Supplier: Adirondack Natural Stone LLC, Whitehall, NY

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