This Was Then: The marble works of Indian Hill

A marble quarry on the Vineyard? Well, maybe not.

- Chris Baer

Established in 1888, Henry H. Norton’s granite and marble works stood near the top of Indian Hill in North Tisbury. While clay, sand, peat, and even iron ore (in the form of “bog iron” in Chilmark swamps) have been commercially extracted on Martha’s Vineyard since colonial days, the geological composition of the Island make granite and marble quarrying unlikely. Instead, Norton may have imported the rock from off-Island.

Norton’s business barely made it into the 20th century. He died in 1902 of “progressive spinal paralysis” (perhaps polio?) at the age of 41, and his marble works were closed. By the 1920s, the property — originally belonging to his father, cooper Mayhew Norton — was bought by New York City civil engineer James Sanborn, and parts of it remain in his family today.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.