Living Stone Masonry
By Natasha Kubis
The craft of stonemasonry, known for its complexity, technique, and dexterity, remains one of the most revered trades in our civilization and can be described as an essential means to preserve our most treasured historic buildings and structures.
The Egyptian and Central American civilizations built pyramids, the Persians built palaces, and the Greeks built temples. Every society in existence has its iconic symbols and structures, the vast majority of which were crafted by the stonemasons of the time.
Modern-day stonemason Will Waller’s passion for the art of stone masonry was first cultivated as a child while visiting his relatives in England. The profound impressions of the historic stone architecture of churches, bridges, and homes left him in awe and stirred his future professional path.
At age 19, Will lived in Arizona and worked as a trail restoration crew member for Prescott National Forest, where he built stone walls and staircases. This experience continued to pique his interest in the art of masonry. In 2012, he and his wife, Alyssa, sought out Asheville, NC, because of the booming stonemason industry and the fact that stonework plays a central role in mountain architecture. That is when he came to work for Living Stone Masonry and eventually took over the business in January 2021.
Living Stone Masonry specializes in building stone walls, patios, steps, walkways, fireplaces, chimneys, and foundations. Something that sets them apart is that they use both mortar and no mortar (dry stone method) and are certified by DSWA (Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain).
Dry stone is the method of building with stones that uses no additional binders such as concrete, mortar, or clay. This construction method relies on the interlock and weight of the stones to keep things in place. Building features without mortar harmonize the structure with the environment and help to prolong its life and integrity. They also specialize in mortared stonework and closely fit each stone while providing quality design elements such as archways.
Will and his team keep history alive with the restoration aspect of the business and are passionate about breathing new life back into older structures while preserving them as much as possible.
They have done some notable restoration projects around Asheville, such as repointing the Vance Monument, repairing the stonework on the historic estate of Senator Robert Rice Reynolds, and rehabilitating a century-old arched bridge in Biltmore Forest.
“When I’m working on a restoration project, I often imagine the craftsman that was also standing in the same spot 100 years before me, and I find it fascinating to contemplate the history behind it”, Will said.
The Living Stone Masonry team is a small group of highly trained artisans capable of large-scale and small-scale projects, whether building a large retaining wall with 1,000-pound boulders, restoring historic stone architecture, building garden walls, or restoring chimneys.
They also provide various hardscape services such as rock gardens, dry streambeds, boulder walls, sculptural boulder placements, and water features. They have access to local boulders and heavy equipment, and Will does his best to source most of his stone regionally.
One of Will’s most exciting projects that he and his team achieved was redirecting a natural spring into a dipping pool embellished with a site-harvested stone waterfall.
Stone is a limited resource and should be treated as such. Living Stone Masonry’s philosophy is to respect the materials they work with. They recycle and reuse stone and rubble whenever possible, and all the stone used is quarried locally.
Good stonemasonry is built to last for generations, and Living Stone Masonry takes steps to ensure its work will stand the test of time by incorporating beautiful designs with stonework of superior quality and durability.