Who is the Berkshires’ “Man of Stone”?
A century and more ago, a great many Berkshire structures were built with locally quarried marble, and the elements have now sometimes eroded even the hardest varieties. Faced with crumbling stone, property owners need a combination artist and engineer, a person who can jump into an excavation and awlessly hoist a veton slab of marble out for restoration. A single modern marble craftsman—Verne Tower—can provide this service today. We call him the Berkshires’ “Man of Stone.”
Growing up in a home of artists and inspired by an art teacher, Verne is a lifetime devotee in marble restoration. Frequently seen in a hardhat and steel-toed boots, his physique is that of a man who has often pitted himself against unyielding stone. Hauling damaged marble to his Richmond shop, Verne becomes a true artist, painstakingly repairing eroded sections with a sharp eye for color streaks.
At TurnPark Art Space in West Stockbridge (photo above), the amphitheater built by Verne appears almost as if it grew there. His work can also be seen at the Freylinghausen-Morris House in Lenox, in the Daniel Chester French-designed Kilbon Memorial Fountain in Lee, and at Hancock Shaker Village. Many other projects are at private homes.
Verne practices a nearly lost art. His ability to both visualize a classic design and bring it to life is rare. When he retires from his ancient art, we may very well find ourselves with eroding marble structures and nobody to make restorations. For now, we can turn to the Berkshires’ Man of Stone.