The granite business in the Chelmsford, Massachusetts area dates back to the early settlers who came to this hard scrabble New England town in the mid 1600’s. Robert Fletcher, the ancestor of H.E. Fletcher, was one of the first settlers and founders of the Town of Chelmsford. In those early days, granite was hewn from the giant boulders left by the upheaval of the glacier moving over the terrain. The granite was used for hearthstones, thresholds, steps and most notably the miles and miles of stone walls that are found still to this day surrounding what were once fields belonging to farmsteads. Water power was harnessed to run the grist mills and saw mills in the late 17th century. Granite was then in great demand to build the dams that held in the water and to make the grinding wheels that ground the grain.

By the early 1800’s the granite industry in Chelmsford was enhanced by the construction of canals to move goods from this area into Boston. Many buildings in Boston used the impressive Chelmsford Grey granite. Charles Bulfinch, a noted architect of this time, chose Chelmsford granite to build University Hall at Harvard University. Chelmsford Granite, purportedly from a site close to where the present day Fletcher Quarry is situated, was also used to build Quincy Market. The columns for Quincy Market were hauled to a landing in Chelmsford by 22 yokes of oxen. They were then loaded onto a barge and sent in to Boston. The oxen and ultimately the canal were replaced after 1895 when the railroad reached the town.

The granite business was well established in the Chelmsford area by the 1880’s as it sits on a significant vein or lobe of granite called the “Chelmsford Range”. At this time, while clearing wood from family owned land, 18-year-old Herbert Ellery Fletcher found an outcrop of granite that was most suitable for granite quarrying. He went into partnership with an Abram Brown (probably an uncle), who was then 70 years old. In establishing his quarry, he was following a long tradition of granite production in the Chelmsford and Westford area.

Mr. Fletcher went into business by himself in 1881 when his partnership with Mr. Brown was dissolved. He joined briefly with his brother Henry in a partnership that lasted from 1903 to 1908. After this partnership dissolved, he incorporated the company in the State of Maine as the H.E. Fletcher Company. The company was incorporated in Massachusetts in 1924.

Mr. Fletcher also operated a construction business until 1915, invested in other granite companies and a slate company. He was very active in town government and served as a State Representative in the late 1800’s and a State Senator from 1901 to 1903. When his two sons, Harold and Ralph, returned home form the WWI, he turned the operations of the company over to them to pursue his great love of solving engineering problems. Mr. Fletcher lived to see a third generation of Fletchers running the company in 1956. Stone from the quarry was used to build his magnificent home in 1912 near the quarry and are now occupied by the engineering, estimating and marketing offices at Fletcher Granite.

What started as a typical small New England quarry operation steadily grew to become what it is today, the largest producer of Granite Curbing and a major supplier of dimension stone and quarry blocks in the US. From the introduction of the pneumatic drills into the quarry in 1903 through the succeeding decades the company has prided itself with being on the leading edge of quarrying and production technology. In the late 20’s the company introduced the use of the core drill in the quarry, which allowed them to greatly increase the amount of stone extracted in the quarry.

During WWII when the granite industry was nearly dormant, the company kept its employees busy fulfilling government contracts to build shackles and torpedo netting.

After the war the Company stepped back into the granite industry in a large way. In the late 1940’s the Company developed a ten wire silicon carbide saw that produced the curb slabs directly in the quarry ledge. This again greatly improved the amount of stone available to curb production thereby making granite curbing more affordable and competitive with concrete.

In the 1950’s the company worked with Linde Corporation to develop an oxygen burner used to burn the channels in the quarry wall. Later the company worked with Browning Engineering in developing the air burner that replaced the oxygen burner to a large extent.

During the 1960’ and ‘70’s the company bought the first hydraulic curb splitter made by Park Tool Company. Later,Fletcher worked with Park Industries in developing a splitter for radius curb. During this time, the company also developed a joint saw to cut the joints on both straight and radius.

During the 1990’s the Company reentered the Dimension Stone business from which it had exited briefly in the late 1980’s. To increase production in the dimension stone quarries Fletcher Granite worked with NED-JET to develop and test the water- jet, a machine that used high pressure water to cut the stone from the ledge. An added benefit of the water-jet is that it is environmentally friendly and produces less noise when in operation then any of the burners. Fletcher continued to improve the efficiency of curb production by developing a machine to cut the slots in inlets and most recently a splitter that will cut small radius curb down to 2 feet. This machine also will cut corner curb.

The tradition of innovation continues today. Fletcher is testing the use of diamond wire in the quarry to cut channels and as a replacement for its ten wire silicon carbide saw. These methods, still in the development phase, will continue the tradition of production improvements and efficiencies.

Fletcher continues to follow the examples of the past by staying in the forefront of technology changes, upgrading its machinery and equipment and breaking new ground in an effort to increase the quality of the product and efficiency of production to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.



View More Historical Photos >

 

 

 
 
Fletcher Granite has been at the forefront of granite fabrication from its very beginnings.
  1948-
Develops first quarry wire saw and ten wire saw for production of curbing slab directly in the quarry.
  1950-
Works with Park Tool Company, to develop first straight splitter to produce curb.
 

1965-
Develops a joint cutting saw for straight curb.

  1970-
Develops a lifting pin for quarrying blocks and curb slabs.
  1972-
Invents first splitter to split radius curb.
  1973-
Develops saw to produce inlets.
  1993-
Developed a high pressure, environmentally safe, water jet for extracting blocks from the quarry.
  2000-
Develops splitter for tight radius curb.
  2004-
Develops multi-diamond wire quarry saw for the production of curbing slab directly in the quarry.