In the foyer of New York City’s Grolier Club, photographs of its nine founders hang proudly on the wall. We, too, have Our Founder on display – but instead of a mustachioed and high-collared 19th century gentleman, ours is a white-haired lady in a blue dress. Fitting, you might think – although hopefully we’ve transcended the “blue-haired ladies” stereotype by now! – but 92 year old Lilly C. Stone, painted in 1954 by local artist Naomi Rabb Winston, was more than just a white-haired lady who dabbled in history.

Lilly Coltman Moore (1862-1960) lived all her life at Glenmore, the Moore family home near present-day Seven Locks and River Roads. She married Frank Pelham Stone in 1892. He died in 1921, leaving her at something of a loss for income. Undaunted, Mrs. Stone (then in her 60s) thought of an old quarry on her family’s land – which had been opened in the 1830s by her grandfather, Captain John Moore, to provide stone for the construction of the C&O Canal, but which had only been used occasionally since then – and started Stoneyhurst Quarries. She was very much involved in the business, and was known as the “only woman quarrier” in the country during the 1920s. Stoneyhurst Quarries provided gneiss and mica schist for many prominent buildings over the decades, including the (old) Elephant House at the National Zoo, parts of the National Cathedral, the steps of the U.S. Botanic Gardens, and the 1937 Bethesda Post Office.

In 1944, at the age of 82, Mrs. Stone invited interested parties to her home with the intent of forming a local branch* of the Maryland Historical Society. Although plenty of people were excited by the idea of preserving their history (due to fear of encroaching suburbanites… more on that in a future blog post, I’m sure), it was Mrs. Stone’s efforts that established the Society as a functioning organization and kept it from fizzling out. As such, we have always recognized her as our founder.  In addition to running a successful quarry and founding the historical society, Mrs. Stone also designed the County’s seal and flag; although modifications were later made, they are still based pretty much on her design.

Mrs. Stone’s portrait hangs in the meeting room of our administration building, prompting many “Who’s that?” queries from visitors – including one from a friend of mine who grew up on Lilly Stone Drive (off Seven Locks Road, near the quarry), and was much entertained to learn the origins of the street’s name. I do like my job (or, in this case, my workplace) to be helpful!

* This “local branch” idea only lasted a few years at the most; we are an entirely independent organization now.

Advertisements