Finding Minnesota: Cold Spring Granite’s MLK Tribute

COLD SPRING, Minn. (WCCO) — Washington D.C. is a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months when the kids are out of school. In August, the National Mall will have a new memorial on it in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s the first time that someone other than a United States president is receiving such an honor, and a Minnesota company is playing a key role in the monument’s construction.

Cold Spring Granite has been in business for 113 years in Stearns County and is still a major player nationally when it comes to making products made of natural stone, so it’s no wonder that the company was chosen to help with the materials and the design of a new memorial for King.

Dan Rea, senior vice-president of Cold Spring Granite’s architectural division, has made several trips to Washington to help oversee the MLK project.

“We quarried the material in Canada, just north of the border of Minnesota, and we fabricated pavers and shaped benches using highly technical equipment we have, disjointed it and sent it to Washington D.C., where it was installed on site,” Rea said, going on to describe the memorial. “It is a four-acre site that sits in the tidal basin between the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson, very close to the Korean War memorial. It’s a large plaza, with 50,000 square feet of stone, and a very large stone entrance into it, a portal inside of it.”

Photos of the company’s work show the elaborate winding benches, the pavement throughout the site, and the surrounding walls with inscriptions.

The architects in charge of the MLK project contacted Cold Spring Granite 10 years ago. They wanted samples of their work that showed what the color and lettering might look like.

After reviewing a few options, the architects chose sandblasted lettering over stainless steel inserts.

“The Martin Luther King memorial has a lot of his quotes in it, some reference to JFK, the whole movement from 1964 on,” Rea said.

This is not the first project that Cold Spring has worked along the National Mall in Washington. The company also did some of the work on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II memorial, the Law Enforcement Memorial, as well as others.

They say they are also currently working on the plaza and the walls at the new World Trade Center that is going up in New York City.

The MLK memorial will be open to the public on August 28. A grand opening celebration is planned. So the next time you visit the National Mall to take in the rich history of our country and its leaders, you can take pride in a Minnesota company’s contributions.

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