Timeline Tuesday: Artificial Stone

The real beginnings of the modern concrete block industry did not begin until the advent of Harmon S. Palmer’s cast-iron machine for making such blocks, patented in 1900. However, a whole series of patents was issued to both American and English inventors in the second half of the nineteenth century for a variety of means of producing concrete blocks. The Daily State Journal of Lincoln on March 27, 1878, reported the local manufacture of what it called “Artificial Stone,” probably an early form of concrete block.

“We made mention in the Journal of yesterday that we should examine thoroughly into the merits of the artificial stone works at the manufactory on 10th street, for which our reporter was present, together with Prof. Bailey, of the Nebraska University, who thoroughly endorses this stone as one of the lost arts. The Egyptians, Romans and Chinese have at the present time buildings erected that have stood for centuries, but the art was lost to mankind where there is no conceivable power that could place them where they now stand, as not a seam is found in the works erected. It struck us forcibly while in the works yesterday, looking at the workmen throwing the sand into the mould boxes and instanter opening the moulds and taking therefrom one of the most perfect and beautiful crystallizations in the shape of an elegant key-stone, which was made in one minute by the watch, at a cost of about fifty cents, which certainly could not be cut by the most skillful mechanic for less than $20. This brings to our mind historical facts of the Temple of King Solomon and the pyramids of Egypt, which our English and French and American travelers have heretofore discussed through the columns of the metropolitan journals of the world.”

According to the Journal, W. H. B. Stout, instrumental in the construction of the second Nebraska Capitol and several other state buildings, had a financial interest in the artificial stone works. Prospective customers were invited to “see at their establishment photographs of elegant buildings built of this stone; one, a photograph, shows a very handsome and palatial residence built of this stone and the interior of the building burnt out and the walls standing intact, without a crack or seam open and everything in perfect order.” The concrete block house had survived both the fire and the water used to extinguish it.

Black and white photograph of the second Nebraska State Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.