Last week, reader Carl mentioned the Avalon Motor Lodge in Biloxi and wondered about the history. I could not turn up much, but located an article about renovating the Avalon with “Stonekote–a veneer of stone-like material that encases the building in a permanent reinforced shell and requires no insulation or paint and is fireproof.” Knowing how much Malvaney just adores fake building materials like DryVit, I undertook a little sleuthing to get the true scoop on Stonekote. You can see for yourself the results in the above “Before” and “After” photographs of the Avalon Motor Lodge, which are starting to look a lot like early DryVit (Biloxi Daily Herald, February 29, 1952).
The history of Stonekote seems a bit more complex, however, than just encasing a building in a stone-like veneer. First off, Stonekote (or some version thereof) made its appearance as early as 1910 in references to the Chicago Garden City Sand Company’s “cement stucco” that “offers you a mighty field of profit” according to the 1922 Building Supply News. Sears, Roebuck, and Company offered a kit home that featured Stonekote as one of the possible finishes, and described it as a “stucco-type covering.”
A review of kit homes for Raleigh described (and pictured) a 1913 catalog description of Stonekote as “cement plaster” and the example resembled wood siding, although referenced as “stucco.” Other sources describe it as “colored Portland cement stucco.”
The ad below came from the 1920 Terra Haute Saturday Spectator. Later that same year, an ad called Stonekote:
…permanent, plastic, weatherproof colored waterproof cement stucco…makes a solid rock wall of flint and plastic cement, impervious to water, indestructible by fire or the elements…the cling of Stonekote is so strong that it cannot be separated from the base to which it is applied.
Apparently, the Gulf Coast jumped on the bandwagon in rushing to utilize the “combination of rock fibre and earth’s minerals” that was considered a “plastic wonder material in many beautiful stone designs and colors.”
In addition to the Avalon Motor Lodge, the Butler Courts on West Beach and the Jules Cash Grocery on Highway 90 in Pascagoula also “facelifted” their buildings with Stonekote.
Billed as both a remodeling approach to renovate and update, and also suitable for new construction, it appeared popular in many homes in the 1950s. One such neighborhood is Birch Street in Blytheville, Arkansas, which still has a presence of Stonekote houses, even if some are suffering from preservation fail.
How about your neighborhood? Any Stonekote houses on your block?