Marble Minutes: Changing of the guard

March 4th, 2011

By Cathy Miglorie

Throughout the dark days of World War II, Vermont Marble Co. carried on with its building stone and monument business. While portions of the marble company operations were dedicated to filling government war equipment contracts, prestigious buildings, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, were also built during that era. In May 1939, the company was awarded the contract to provide a total of 335 carloads of high-grade white marble from the Danby quarry for the Jefferson Memorial. By February 1941, the final shipment of Imperial Danby marble was sent to Washington. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial on April 14, 1943.

But times were changing, and company executives realized that after the war, new markets would have to be found for their stone. Frank C. Partridge, former president of Vermont Marble Co., was on the company’s Board of Directors and played an active role in seeing that the company changed with the times. Although Partridge, along with Redfield Proctor Jr., had endured criticism for the actions taken to break the 1936 strike, he also enjoyed a remarkable career with the company.

Partridge was born in Middlebury, attended Amherst College and Columbia Law School. He moved to Rutland and began practicing law in 1885, but his law career was short-lived. By 1886, Partridge had moved to Proctor to begin working for Vermont Marble Co.

Upon his death in 1943, The Memory Stone in May of that year paid tribute to this man’s illustrious career with Vermont Marble Co. as well as to the many public positions he held during his life.

“Frank C. Partridge, chairman of the Board of Directors and for many years president of the Vermont Marble Co., died on March 2, 1943. His connection with the company dated back to 1876 — a period of 67 years. His record of service was remarkable, not only for its length but for its accomplishments.

“For more than 50 years, he held official positions of high responsibility. In 1886, he became treasurer of the company; in 1891, vice-president; and, in 1912, he was chosen president. During the following years of extremely fluctuating business conditions, he guided the affairs of the company wisely and proved an able leader. In 1935, at the age of 74, he became chairman of the board and continued his active connection with the business until a few days before his death.”

Partridge’s early legal training qualified him for many positions of service to the state and the nation. He went to Washington from Vermont as private secretary to Redfield Proctor when Proctor was secretary of war. He was appointed solicitor of the State Department to succeed the late Walker Blaine, and later was appointed U.S. Minister to Venezuela by President Benjamin Harrison.

Partridge had extensive diplomatic experience and a wide knowledge of the business methods of the State Department. Therefore, he was appointed consul general to Tangier in 1897, just prior to the Moroccan Crisis, which was one of the many conflicts occurring overseas. These conflicts aggravated Europe’s already unstable state and eventually resulted in World War I.

Partridge was also appointed for a brief term to the U.S. Senate, and he served as delegate to the Fifth Pan-American Conference in Santiago, Chile. In Vermont, he served as state senator, member of the Vermont Committee of Public Safety and president of the Vermont Flood Corp.

“Such a background of training and experience in both law and business gave Mr. Partridge unusual qualifications for the management of our company. His good judgment, power of analysis, foresight and executive ability has contributed in large measure to the company’s position today.”

Redfield Proctor, Jr. succeeded Partridge as Vermont Marble Co. president. Proctor, along with the marble company’s Board of Directors, began to turn the direction of the company around to fill the needs of the post-war economy.

Cultural Heritage Walls

The Cultural Heritage Walls honor workers in Vermont’s marble industry. The walls are crafted of white marble and placed in Proctor and West Rutland. They are engraved with the names of the immigrants who fled Europe as well as their future generations of family. All of these men brought resourcefulness, hope, commitment and talents that contributed significantly to Vermont’s famed marble industry.

Already, 28 names grace the Proctor Wall. Here are some of the new honorees, whose names will be added to the Proctor Wall and the new, West Rutland Wall this spring.

On the Proctor Wall: Joseph M. Beauregard, USA; Erick Erickson, Sweden; John Dahlin, Sweden.

On the West Rutland Wall: Adam Sitek, Poland; Adam Libuda, Poland; Mike Lengol, Czechoslovakia; William Godek, Poland; Joseph Pokrywka, Poland.

You, too, can honor your relatives who worked in the marble industry by commemorating their contributions on the Heritage Walls. The deadline is April 15, 2011, for inclusion in this spring’s installation.

Sponsor forms can be downloaded at www.dimensionsofmarble.com or call the Vermont Marble Museum, 459-2300, to be mailed a form. Cost is $250 per family name.

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