Granite Quarry was originally named Woodville in the late 1800's and was officially changed by the N.C. General Assembly to Woodsides on March 7, 1901. This name was derived from a family of Woodsides who lived in the community.
The first post office was established under this name in 1891 with Joseph F. Wiley serving as the first postmaster. Soon after its incorporation there was a lot of confusion in freight and mail deliveries as there was another town under the name of Woodsides in North Carolina. Thus, in 1902, the post office changed its name to Granite Quarry, for the stone quarried here. The N.C. General Assembly did not officially change the name until February 5, 1905. The first postmaster under the name of Granite Quarry was W. S. Brown.
When the town incorporated in 1901, Jerry L. Shuping was the first mayor. The aldermen were: William L. Lefler, L. H. Kluttz, Rufus B. Peeler, and Alfred L. Peeler, which were the five families that lived in the town.
The first town meetings were held in an upstairs room in the W. S. Brown store building. What is now the Town Hall Municipal Building was originally built in 1963 by Gemgas and later purchased by the town.
A more in-depth account of the early years of Granite Quarry can be found in a statement given by the Honorable Representative Howard Coble on May 19th, 2001, in celebration of the town's centennial celebration. His statement follows:
CONGRATULATIONS TO GRANITE QUARRY ON ITS 100TH BIRTHDAY
Statement of the Honorable Howard Coble, May 19, 2001
Mr. Speaker, this month, a second town in the Sixth District of North Carolina will celebrate its centennial. Ironically, this town is in the same county as another small municipality in our district to reach the century mark this year. Earlier, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Landis, North Carolina. Now, it is time to turn our attention to another Rowan County town as it marks 100 years of official existence.
On May 19, 2001, the town of Granite Quarry will celebrate its centennial, and on behalf of the entire Sixth District of North Carolina, we honor the first 100 years of Granite Quarry and look forward to the town’s bright future. While Granite Quarry is officially 100 this year, the history of the town is more than two centuries old.
Granite Quarry began in 1766 when Michael Braun (Brown) moved to the area from Pennsylvania. He constructed what became known as the Old Stone House of native hand-hewn granite. (The house has been restored by Rowan Museum, Inc., and is recognized as the oldest German dwelling in North Carolina.)
The town was known as Woodville in the late 1800s, and by 1891, when the first post office was established, it was under the name of Woodsides. The second name was for a family of Woodsides who lived in the community. On March 7, 1901, the North Carolina General Assembly officially changed the name to Woodsides. When the town was first incorporated, five families lived in the town. Jerry L. Shuping was the first mayor and William Lefler, L.H. Kluttz, Rufus B. Peeler and Alfred L. Peeler were the first aldermen. These family names remain fixtures in Rowan County today. Shortly after incorporation, it was discovered that there was another Woodsides in North Carolina, resulting in confusion for mail and freight deliveries.
While the post office name was changed to Granite Quarry in 1902, it wasn’t until February 5, 1905, that the General Assembly approved the new name of Granite Quarry to recognize and highlight the stone quarried there. The quarries were already attracting attention years earlier as they developed along the newly completed Yadkin Railway and more and more people moved into the area to work the quarries.
Quarrying was begun by the eccentric J.T. Wyatt who was later known as a local newspaper columnist with the fascinating sobriquet of “Venus of Faith.” Wyatt began his digging at the site of the Balfour Quarry. The demand for paving stones and later, Durax blocks, kept the town full of workers. Durax blocks, four by four pieces of stone laid in circles on city streets, can still be seen in the nearby town of Salisbury on Depot Street in front of the Southern Railway Station. Curbing stones quarried in Granite Quarry can be found in cities all over the United States.
Large scale quarrying began in 1906 when the Whitney Company was selected to provide the stone for a granite dam on the Yadkin River in Stanly County. Whitney contracted with the Gillespie Company to operate the Rowan County quarry. Hundreds of Italian laborers and English stone cutters were brought to Granite Quarry to work in the mines. Stone cutting was an art that few people in the United States knew, making it necessary to import workers. The dam lost almost $20 million and when the Whitney Company went into bankruptcy, the Gillespie Company ceased operations. Nearly all of the foreign workers left except for a few of the English stone cutters who had little difficulty in finding employment at other quarries. The waters of Badin Lake today cover the granite dam, but when the water level is lowered, the dam can still be seen in its watery grave.
When the Whitney project failed, the town was hit by a depression, and Granite Quarry became a ghost town. It was saved from a permanent death in the 1920s when the state became a pioneer in the construction of public roads. The demand for crushed stone for paving was tremendous. That demand, when added to the normal output for curbing, paving blocks, ornamental stone, and memorial work, pushed production to new records. It would last for several decades. The quarrying industry has declined in recent years because of rising labor costs and the increasing use of concrete in buildings and road construction, but today, Granite Quarry does not survive on stones alone.
The future for Granite Quarry is bright. The Rowan County town of almost 3,000 people is a bedroom community for nearby larger jurisdictions, but it still boasts of more than 30 businesses including restaurants, doctors’ offices and service stations. It is proud of its paid police department of a dozen full-time and part-time officers. Granite Quarry has one of the largest volunteer fire departments for a town of its size with more than 30 members. The Granite Quarry Civic Park stands as a testament to the hard work and dedication of the people who live there.
From 1968-1973, civic groups, churches, government and business leaders joined forces to construct the park that is still enjoyed by the residents of Granite Quarry today. While other towns may have grown larger and still others may have become better known, the people of Granite Quarry will tell you they cannot think of a better place to call home. On behalf of the citizens of the Sixth District of North Carolina, we congratulate Granite Quarry on its first 100 years. We look forward with much anticipation to what the future holds for this outstanding Rowan County community.