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"Remembering The Thurmont Marble & Granite Co"

Anne W. Cissel

Whether operating under the name The Thurmont Marble & Granite Co., Hammaker Bros. or the current R.S. Kinnaird Memorials, the master stonecutters of Thurmont have practiced their craft and artistry for over 120 years at the same site.

"The Marble Yard" was first established on Boundary and Church Streets by 22 year old Peter N. Hammaker in 1880 when he moved his small monument business fromits original quarters on Water Street to this location. Peter had built a new brick residence the year before; the workshops for his business were located behind his new home. But in good weather, it was common to see his employees carving, and polishing the marble and granite gravestones, mantlepieces or colonnades out in the side yard.

The Hammaker name became known for quality, so that he was chosen for several important public commissions, including a Mason-Dixon marker at Blue Ridge Summit in 1902 and the Alabama Confederacy Monument for the Gettysburg Battlefield in 1907. Later the company would open several branches including one at Gettysburg.

After Mr. Hammaker's tragic death in 1925 (as recalled in the Scrapbook column "The Hot Zone House") his nephews Ernest and Frank Hammaker operated the company. By the 1970's they employed 25 or more employees. One of these skilled artists in stone Robert S. Kinnaird of Aberdeen, Scotland had answered an ad in a 1959 trade magazine and came to America to join the firm. Mr. Kinnaird came from a family of stone workers in Aberdeen which was nicknamed The Granite City.

In 1976 Mr. Kinnaird bought Hammaker Bros, and with his son John continued to maintain the standards of skillful, quality workmanship. The Kinnaird 's work is represented at Antietam, the Grotto of Lourdes and Arlington National Cemetery to name a few. But the products of these Thurmont artisens stretch many miles beyond the mid-Atlantic. A worked stone from our own Hunting Creek was incorporated as a building block in the Anwar Sadat Memorial in Egypt --symbolizing the Camp David Accords. Even further a field, John Kinnaird's 3-panel memorial of blue and grey granite marking the decisive World War II Battle of Midway is located over 6,000 miles away on that small island in the Pacific.

Today computers aid the design and ability to personalize portraits or scenes on gravestones and decorative objects in glass, redwood or synthetic materials. Peter Hammaker would be astounded at the labor-saving tools now used, but he would be pleased that a new generation of Kinnairds is learning the trade/craft to continue the tradition of Thurmont's "Marble Yard".

If you have any Information or historical news clippings on business in the Thurmont Area, Please send them to us so we can included them in our archives. E-mail us at: history@mythurmont.net

Read more articles by Anne Cissel