Hokie Stone is a grey dolomite limestone named for the Hokie mascot of Virginia Tech where the stone is the primary finishing material on campus buildings. Hokie Stone is limestone infused with magnesium and calcium under intense pressure and temperature. Formation of the stone began 450 million years ago when the local area was covered by a shallow sea. Hokie Stone with impurities such as siltstone and sandstone is multi-colored and found on some newer Blacksburg campus structures.
Eighty percent of the stone is quarried from a 40-acre (160,000 m2) Virginia Tech-owned quarry a few miles from campus near the Highland Park subdivision of Blacksburg, Virginia. Twenty-five to thirty Virginia Tech employees use black powder each day to dislodge the stone, cut it into block sizes required by campus construction projects and then finish the blocks by hand using hammers and chisels. In 2010 Virginia Tech upgraded the quarry equipment to reduce costs, including the purchase of a computer-driven saw. Hokie Stone from this quarry can only be sold to Virginia Tech. The remaining 10% of stone, which is black, is mined once per year from an additional quarry located on a local farm near Lusters Gate. About 50 tons can be quarried each week. The university-owned quarry has been in operation since the 1950s.
When the university was founded in 1872, buildings were simple brick constructions, reflecting the architecture of Blacksburg at that time. The first Hokie Stone was cut in 1899 for the YMCA Building (now the Performing Arts Building), the first to be constructed of Hokie Stone. In 1914, the first McBryde Hall introduced the Hokie Stone-clad neo-Gothic style (similar to great European universities) which became the official architecture of the campus. The native woodland Indians are believed to have made tools from Hokie Stone. During the 1960s and 1970s, concrete and brick structures absent of Hokie Stone such as Dietrick Hall and Cassell Coliseum were built. In 1975 the Tech Foundation bought the quarry from the local Cupp family. In 2010, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors made it official policy that Hokie Stone be the predominant material in the façade of every new building on the Blacksburg central campus. Today each campus project uses an average of 1,500 tons of Hokie Stone, with each ton of stone covering about 35 square feet. The use of the local stone may add as much as $1 million to the cost of a new building.
In addition to building exteriors, Hokie Stone is used in important monuments such as biographical markers outside each campus building providing a brief history of the person for whom the building is named. Thirty-two Hokie Stones were quarried by university stonemasons and engraved with the names of students and professors killed in the April 2007 school shooting. The memorial is a permanent version of one students spontaneously created using smaller stones. The Virginia Tech football team enters the playing field through a tunnel with an exit topped by a block of Hokie Stone which is touched by each player. In 2011, Virginia Tech even offered Hokie Stone as an option for the centerpiece of class rings.
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- "Virginia Tech's Stone of Tradition" (pdf). Virginia Tech, University Relations. 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- Board of Visitors Meeting minutes November 8, 2010. Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. p.4. Retrieved February 3, 2012
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- Resolution on Hokie Stone, "Attachment H" to minutes of Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting on November 8, 2010.