Sunday, September 18, 2011


Barre, Vermont, granite country, was settled by a potpourri of immigrants, especially Italian stone workers, the descendants of Renaissance masters.

From the earth, these men wrestled enormous blocks of granite. Then, they cut, carved, sculpted and polished the Stone and, often, they died young from accidents, back-breaking labor or lungs filled with silica dust.

From the quarried granite, these immigrants, their children and their children's children anchored and adorned buildings and populated graveyards of the wealthy with exquisitely finished, carved and lettered monuments.

Barre's "Hope Cemetery" is the resting place for many of these immigrants and their families. Though their incomes were meager, their headstones mirror those with greater means and are a testimony to their artistry. Many of the monuments bear birth dates of the mid-1980s and surnames such as:

Abbiati, Andreoletti, Amici, Barberi, Benvenuti, Bianchi Bielli, Bogni, Bottaro, Bottiggi, Broggini, Brunella, Brusa, Buzzi, Calcagni, Calderara, Cardi, Cassani, Casellini, Catto, Coletti, Colombo, Corti, Cozzi, Croce, Domenichelli, Fasola, Fumagalli, Furloni, Giannarelli, Gilli, Guidici, Guidugli,Lamperti, Lanfronconi, Lotti, Malnati, Marchesi, Masi, Mazorati, Mochetti, Moruzzi, Movalli, Orlandi, Parnigoni, Pasetto, Peduzzi, Pellegrini, Pilini, Piretti, Pironi, Puricelli, Rizzi, Roncoroni, Rossi, Rusconi, Sassorossi, Simonetta, Sironi, Stefanazzi, Tamborini, Tarelli, Tosi, Valli, Vanetti, Vasoli, Veronesi, Zanleoni.

Residing in central Barre's Dente Park is a large statue dedicated to Carlo Abate, an artist, who was born in Milan, Italy in 1860 and died in Barre, Vermont in 1943. The sculpture is also a tribute to all Italian-immigrant stone cutters and their progeny.

The heroic, squarely-built, standing figure has muscular, heavily-veined arms. His large hands hold the tools of his trade, a hammer and a hand point. He wears a cap and a sturdy apron. His furrowed brow, piercing gaze and firmly set jaw definitively establish his determination and will to not only survive, but to prevail.

Now, with paltry results, in the name of speed, money and progress, machines and less-dedicated, less-inspired men, unaccustomed to hard work, attempt to imitate quickly the grace and artistry of those dedicated and gifted craftsmen. Like all of today's society, this generation of workmen must slow down, take pride in their work, study the techniques of the master stone cutters and learn to listen to and communicate with the stone. For, the masters were one with their tools and the stone.

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