Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jean Jacques Louis Wuichet

In the mid to late 1800's, Jean Jacques Louis Wuichet, often referred to as James L. Wuichet, wielded mallets and chisels to create the stone used in beautiful buildings all over the world.

Wuichet was born in Switzerland and there learned the trade of stone dressing.

How he came to make Dayton, Ohio his home was related in a newspaper article written by Howard Burba. The article titled, When "Dayton Marble" Brought in Millions, appeared in the February 7, 1937 issue of the Dayton Daily News.

According to Burba, Wuichet traveled through Germany, Turkey, and Russia practicing his trade. He remained in Russia the longest and dressed stone "for some of the finest buildings in the Russian capital".

In 1833 Wuichet immigrated to New York City. About 1835 he relocated to the Cincinnati area and worked on stone for the canal locks. He found the stone to be similar to what he had worked with in Switzerland and asked about the origin of the limestone. This led to his introduction to Mr. Gilmore of Dayton.

Gilmore hired Wuichet, in 1836, to work at his Gilmore & Scott quarry near Beavertown. The superior work produced by Wuichet attracted attention and he was encouraged to start his own business. After Wuichet started his business, he hired other stone cutters trained in the old world.

Burba writes, "His 'yard' was opened in a little oaken forest east of the canal and his first 'chiseling' was done under a big tree in the center of Green St. near the corner of Jefferson, then a rather wild looking place ... So well pleased was Mr. Wuichet with the location that he built himself a large and comfortable house on the scene of his first stone-cutting exploits in Dayton. .." In a death notice in the Dayton Daily Journal the Wuichet residence is described as "at the corner of Green and Logan Streets opposite Jefferson street bridge".

Literature from Woodland Cemetery in Dayton says that Wuichet did all the stone cutting on the St. Peter In Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati built in 1848 and the old Dayton Courthouse built in 1850. It states he also cut the stone for the Waldo street entrance way to the cemetery and their receiving vault. The receiving vault was built to store bodies until graves were prepared. It was mostly used during the winter when frozen ground made digging difficult.

"The vault was designed, "In the Theme of Thebes and Karnak" and is an exact replica of the Tomb of Karnak. It is one of the few examples of period Egyptian Revival architecture in Ohio".

Wuichet married Sabina Dutoit, the daughter of Eugene Dutoit. They had seven sons and two daughters. Their sons became involved in various Dayton businesses: lumber, fertilizer, and asphalt and roofing.

Wuichet died on September 13, 1872 at age 70 and was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.

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