Campus, city activities taking place in Bloomington for Limestone Month

Limestone has been quarried in Monroe County since 1827, and it has been used in the construction of many buildings on the IU Bloomington campus over the past 100 years, according to Sturgeon. A walk through the Old Crescent at the heart of campus will provide a view of some of those structures, such as the Indiana Memorial Union, the Sample Gates, Maxwell Hall and more.

"The ornate carvings and enduring beauty of Indiana limestone contribute to the campus's appeal, and I cannot think of a place on campus where I could go and not see Indiana limestone," Sturgeon said.

Trademarked as the "Nation's Building Stone," Indiana limestone has been used in building projects across the United States, including major cities like Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. Notable structures including the Pentagon, the Empire State Building and Biltmore Estate feature Indiana limestone. It is estimated that 50 to 75 percent of all limestone buildings in North America are made of Indiana limestone, Sturgeon said.

Limestone Month Events

  • Building a Nation: Indiana limestone photograph exhibit

    The exhibit showcases archival photos of major building projects using Indiana limestone, as well as photos of the limestone quarries and mills in Southern Indiana. All photos are from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and are now managed by the Indiana Geological Survey. The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, will run daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. throughout June at Fountain Square Mall.

  • Science of Art: Limestone carving

    As part of their First Friday series, WonderLab is hosting a limestone carving event at 1 p.m. on June 2. Limestone symposium artists will demonstrate how to carve the stone. The event is free to attend.

  • IU Bloomington campus limestone architecture tour

    Brian Keith, a senior scientist at the Indiana Geological Survey, will lead a tour of the limestone buildings on the IU Bloomington campus. Learn more about the notable IU structures and their styles, techniques and artistry, beginning at the Sample Gates. Tours are available from 2 to 4 p.m. June 2 and 23, and they are free and open to the public. Email Polly Sturgeon at to reserve a spot.

  • Legacy of Indiana limestone in Bloomington

    Polly Sturgeon with the Indiana Geological Survey will speak at 5:15 p.m. June 2 in conjunction with the "Building a Nation" exhibit. She will give context to the recently discovered historic photos that showcase Indiana limestone buildings as well as talk about the geology of the unique stone. Her discussion will take place in the ballroom on the third floor of Fountain Square Mall.

  • State House Quarry tour

    Todd Thompson, state geologist and director of the Indiana Geological Survey, will lead a tour of the State House Quarry at McCormick’s Creek State Park at 9 a.m. June 3. This particular quarry supplied stone to construct the Indiana State Capitol, and the tour will highlight the fossils and rock formations preserved in the quarry walls. A $7 park entrance fee is the only cost for the tour, but reservations are required. Email to register.

  • Indiana limestone symposium

    The symposium features limestone carving workshops for all skill levels, led by nationally recognized limestone carving artists at Bybee Stone Co. in Ellettsville. Participants can choose to attend one day or up to three weeks of instruction, and sessions will take place from June 4 to 24. Workshops for children are also available.

    Public open houses will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. June 8, 15 and 22.

  • Furst Quarry tour

    Take part in a guided tour of Furst Quarry, an abandoned quarry site in Bloomington. The cost to attend the tour is $10, and a shuttle service will take participants from the Bloomington Visitors Center to the quarry. Call Visit Bloomington at 812-334-8900 to reserve a spot. The tour starts at 10 a.m. June 10.

  • Walking tour of Vinegar Hill Neighborhood

    Take a guided walking tour through Bloomington’s Vinegar Hill Neighborhood with Bethany Emenhiser, program manager and historic preservationist for the City of Bloomington's Housing and Neighborhood Development department. The Vinegar Hill neighborhood was developed at the height of Indiana’s limestone industry and features limestone homes built by local carvers that also built limestone buildings across the United States. The tours will take place at 4 p.m. June 14 and 23 and will begin at the intersection of First Street and Woodlawn Avenue near Bryan Park. Call the Visit Bloomington at 812-334-8900 to reserve a spot on the free tour.