The Westerly Granite Industry


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Westerly, RI   02891
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Fraquelli and Brusa--History

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    HISTORY
Fraquelli & Brusa was a granite carving and sculpting company from 1923 – 1952 in Westerly, RI.  Its founding in May 1923 was reported in the trade publication, American Stone Trade (v24 n4 p34) later that year.


“Fraquelli & Brusa, Westerly, R.I., started in the business of manufacturing Westerly granite memorials in May, 1923, being equipped for both polishing and cutting and carving with a good outfit of air tools and machines.  The firm consists of A. Fraquelli and C. Brusa, the former having come from Italy twenty years ago, and the latter is now twelve years in this country, and both of them learned the art of cutting and carving in Italy.  Their chief pride is in their ability to produce statuary of the highest order, besides all kinds of cemetery work that requires skilled craftmanship.”


They advertised in American Stone Trade as “Sculptors and Carvers” doing “Art work in Westerly granite” during 1923-4.  Attilio Giuseppe Fraquelli was also known as Arthur J and his business partner was Constantine Brusa [picture p 28, 29, Built From Stone – The Westerly Granite Story]. 


On November 24, 1924 Arthur J. Fraquelli and Constantine Brusa leased property “with stone sheds and other improvements thereon standing, located off the northerly side of Oak Street, in the Town of Westerly” from the Stillman family.  It was a five-year lease beginning in January 1925 for $400 per year.  This and subsequent leases specifically state that they are copartners in the business called Fraquelli & Brusa.  They would continue to lease this property for at least 16 more years with a one year lease for 1930 followed by a 15 year lease at an rate increasing from $600 to $800 per year.  These leases were recorded in Westerly property records (Instrument numbers 1924‑34366, 1929-34367, 1932‑34362). In the New England Business Directory and Gazetteer for 1926, they are listed as being at Oak and High Streets. Starting in 1927, Fraquelli and Brusa are listed in the Westerly Tax Book paying property and sewerage taxes on the valuation of their Tangible Personal property as a business ($1000 valuation in 1927).  Fraquelli and Brusa also bought land on what is now Guarino Avenue near Oak Street backing up on the railroad in 1929, but it is unclear if they intended to use it for the business or it was an investment.  Perhaps it was the latter, as it stayed in the family after the business was sold in 1952.


Photographs from the mid-1920s show a one story wooden building with a company sign on top that served as a carving shed (https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=732773773474380&story_fbid=2592572824161123) .  A granite lion can be seen in the door.


Arthur Fraquelli died on January 24, 1934 at age 50 reportedly of stone cutters disease.  The Fraquelli family owned 18 and 20 Chestnut Street and the Fraquelli and Brusa heirs owned property in the Oak Street Center (now Guarino Avenue).  The business had been a partnership, but Constantine Brusa became sole owner at this time (Granite Cutters’ Journal v76-78 p8).

According to a comment posted to Facebook by Mary Vacca, “My grandfather, David V. Parading worked for this company for many years. He too succumbed to the granite dust disease. I was also told that during lean times in Westerly, he would travel to Barre, Vermont to work the quarries. It would take him days to reach his destination, as the roads were quite rough and he had to stop many times to change the tires due to blowouts.”  A 1949 advertisement in the Granite Cutter’s Journal sought “a letter cutter or a combination of a letter cutter and carver, also a first-class monumental cutter” and promised steady work.


The business would continue under the leadership of Constantine Brusa until its sale in 1952 shortly before his death on May 27. The Granite Cutter’s Journal reported that “Coduri Buys Brusa Firm - Purchase of the trade name, good will and assets of the Fraquelli and Brusa Granite Company at 28 Oak Street, Westerly, R. I., was announced today by the Joseph Coduri Granite Co. Negotiations completing the transaction were effected several weeks ago by Constantine Brusa of the Fraquelli and Brusa Co. and Richard J. Coduri, president of the Coduri firm. Mr. Brusa is a member of the Westerly Board of Water Commissioners.  He has liquidated his business because of ill health. The Coduri Company will not operate its newly purchased business at the present site.”

 

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