Weeksville Heritage Center

Unfading Mottled Green & Purple Slate at Weeksville Project.

This beautiful stone speaks of the city’s respect for the importance of this site…

Sara Caples, Caples Jefferson Architects

The Weeksville Heritage Center was designed by Caples Jefferson Architects and completed in 2014.  The structure sits on an historic site in Brooklyn which was one of America’s first free black communities. The Heritage Center’s mission is to document, preserve and interpret the history of the free African-American communities of Weeksville, Brooklyn, and beyond and to create and inspire innovative, contemporary uses of African-American history through education, the arts and civic engagement.

Caples Jefferson Architects’ design for this Certified LEED Gold building has received much praise and many awards (see below).  Simone Corda writes, “The patterns and the rich textures offered by the slate, the wood and the frit glass create a rhythm almost of African riffs embedded into a modern syntax. These elements add a playfulness to the civic tone set by the geometrical rigors of the building making the space welcoming to the wide community that enjoys it. The architects’ commitment to community goes further yet with due diligence given to environmental sustainability.”

When the Historic Districts Council awarded the Weeksville Heritage Center its HDC 2014 Design Award, the jury commented, “The dramatic horizontal stretch of the building gives a much needed edge to the open property, and both exterior and interior spaces are sensitively formed. The range of materials and beautifully crafted details, suggestive of African patterns, seem to reach out to visitors, making a subtle transition from street to park.”

All of us here at Vermont Structural Slate Co. are proud our Unfading Mottled Green & Purple Slate was selected as the signature stone for this important project. We are flattered that Designer Sara Caples commented, “This beautiful stone speaks of the city’s respect for the importance of this site.  The stone base anchors the building while delighting the passersby with its constantly changing colors and textures.”

For this project, we quarried the Unfading Mottled Green & Purple Slate blocks from our Eureka Quarry in North Poultney, Vermont which has been in continuous operation since the late 1800s and has produced for countless prestigious projects including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and The Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.  We then hand-split the quarried blocks into natural cleft finish pieces, calibrated them to thickness and cut them into precise geometric shapes.

The selection and quality expectations required for the Weeksville Heritage Center took more than just high quality stone and fabrication experience…it takes an exacting mindset and pride in being part of a great project like this one.  We truly enjoy our work with architects and meeting the challenges of their designs.

Awards for the Weeksville Heritage Center:

2015 – AIA NY COTE Sustainability Institutional Award
2014 – Best of New York AIA New York State
2014 – Award of Excellence AIA New York State MASterworks Best New Building
2014 – Municipal Art Society Design Award Historic Districts Council Nominee Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize
2013 – Best Cultural Project Citation Architect Magazine
2013 – Honor Award National Organization of Minority Architects


Photos by Nic Lehoux