Most of New York City’s iconic brownstones, it turns out, were built using stone from the same quarry. Now, after centuries of intermittent mining, Portland Brownstone Quarries in Portland, Connecticut, has closed for business, and its inventory of precious rock is expected to run dry by the end of the month. Though brand-new brownstones aren’t exactly popping up by the dozen, preservationists value the Portland stone for maintaining an original look while restoring old buildings. “We’re all scrambling to grab that stone,” said George Heckel of New Jersey stone fabricators Pasvalco. “If you’re thinking about achieving the look and feel of a New York City brownstone, you’re not going to get that anymore.”

The quarries were shuttered once before, in the ’40s, after brownstone had fallen out of fashion and a storm flooded much of the area. They were reopened in the ’90s by Mike Meehan, who’s been running them for 20 years since. Now, he says his company as extracted all it can from the land without investing more–plus, he wants more time to enjoy the waterpark that now borders the quarries. “We’re up here breaking stones and there are people over there yelling, ‘Yay!'” he said. “It’s a pleasant diversion at lunchtime.”

(Photo: Garrett Ziegler)