The Modern Stonemason

Ancient craft techniques, cutting-edge technology, and artistic drive shape the architectural stone creations brought to life by Freshwater Stone in Orland.

Company founder Jeff Gammelin.
A monumental granite-and-glass sculpture designed and fabricated by Freshwater Stone’s art division serves as the business’s roadside welcome sign. No words required.
In Freshwater Stone’s independent quarry, stone is cut on an ultra-sharp Italian Gaspari Menotti wire saw, which slices granite blocks into slabs.
The six-step finishing process makes use of a series of hand pads and polishing discs of different grades—graduating from rough to soft—until the desired texture is reached.
For granite heading for installations like steps and paths, the surface is sometimes thermal-treated to create a rough texture that makes the stone more suitable for foot traffic. Here, Nathan Rickman is flaming granite slabs with a torch that operates on propane and oxygen.
A fork-truck operator lifts a freshly cut 40,000-pound block of Freshwater Pearl Granite at the company’s quarry, ten miles from its fabrication facilities in Orland.
Detail of the polishing process.
Extremely thick stones are cut on the GMM Diama 4-axis bridge saw, fitted with a 6-foot-diameter blade that goes back and forth until it cleanly cuts through the granite.
A lifetime of beauty and warm memories: The one-of-a-kind stone fireplace that started Freshwater Stone, when a visitor asked, “Can you build one of those for me?”
The house Jeff and Candy built together in the 1970s.
A pergola that Jeff designed and constructed in his own backyard.

The story of Freshwater Stone, in Orland, began in a small fieldstone house designed and constructed by hand. Company owners Jeff and Candy Gammelin met at Syracuse University in New York State, where they were both studying to become teachers. It was the 1970s, and they, like so many other baby boomers then coming of age, were feeling a deep sense of urgency to reconnect with nature and test their own ability to create comfort, beauty, and creative, sustainable lives working with their hands, minds, and the materials the Earth provided.

Heeding the call of the outdoors and their own sense of adventure, the young couple decided to move to Maine, where they set to work on a dream. Jeff, a talented artist and craftsman, shaped their first house stone by stone. In 1976, a visitor took note of the artful stone fireplace and chimney wall that Jeff had designed and built at the heart of the structure.

“Could you build one of those for me?” the guest enquired. The answer was yes. A new career—and a new family business, Freshwater Stone—had taken root.

Over the 40-plus years since the company’s founding in America’s bicentennial year, the history of Freshwater Stone has expanded to include not only the Gammelins’ original fieldstone house—still a vital and beautifully functional part of the couple’s residence—but also an internationally respected architectural stone design, fabrication, and finishing business; a sculptural art division; and a 200-acre quarry, just 10 miles from the company’s workshops, that serves as the source of the company’s signature stone, Freshwater Pearl granite.

Jeff—the company’s multifaceted master craftsman, stonemason, and artist— remains passionate about all aspects of the business he has nurtured from the ground up. He works closely with his talented team daily to bring his customers’ architectural visions to life. With public and private projects stretching from Maine to Europe and across the United States (including Hawaii), Freshwater Stone has become known for its artful approach to design, its meticulous attention to construction detail, and its continued dedication to creating stoneworks that reflect the organic beauty of each variety and individual block or slab of granite, marble, limestone, bluestone, soapstone, or schist.

Freshwater Stone’s staff of 50 is educated on the unique nature of each stone— its physical characteristics, coloration and patterning, surface texture, and sense of movement—and equipped with state-of-the-art tools that allow for monumental cutting and lifting, precision shaping, fine finishing, and remarkably efficient fabrication, shipping, delivery, and installation.

High-tech CNC bridge saws and diamond-edge blades ease the ancient process of transforming raw rock into art and architectural and landscape elements such as hearthstones and chimney walls, thick kitchen counters and integrated sinks, shapely stone bathtubs, wall veneers, pavers, blocks, columns, pillars, and more. But the greatest source of pleasure stonemasonry offers to both maker and client continues to come from the look and feel of the rock: the promise each stone holds to yield a one-of-a-kind piece of art that will bring beauty and satisfaction for a lifetime.
In fact, as the company’s historic preservation and restoration projects remind us, a thoughtfully designed, executed, and maintained stone structure has the potential to last more than one lifetime.

When a client turns to Jeff Gammelin and asks, “Can you make one of those for me?” the answer is always yes. He can.