Coldspring Statue at the Coldspring plant


Coldspring, (formerly known as Cold Spring Granite Company)

In 1880, Henry Nair Alexander, a 32 year old stoneworker from Inverurie, Scotland, came to the United States. He brought with him a desire to explore this country’s fledgling stone industry, advanced quarrying and stone cutting skills, a work ethic that would set the tone for his own company, and strong beliefs in family, religion, and education. Alexander returned to Scotland for one year in 1884. In 1886 he was joined in Boston by his fiancee, Maggie Milne; there they married and then traveled to Central Minnesota where he worked with other Scottish stonemen. Henry Alexander established a small granite company with several of them that 100 years in the future has become internationally recognized as Coldspring. With the ongoing support of its employees, many of them second and third generation, Coldspring maintains a position as one of the largest granite quarrying and fabrication operations in the world.

Timeline of Important Dates

Henry Alexander, age 50, purchases the interests of five partners and becomes the sole owner of the Rockville Granite Company. While one of many small granite companies in the area, it is distinguished by innovation in machinery and quarrying techniques. Work is primarily for small buildings with notable projects the Milwaukee Post Office, the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, and columns for the Minnesota State Capitol.

The Alexander family settles in Rockville and by 1898 six children are born, three girls and three boys. As they grow, all have some work experience with the company while pursuing their education, with four attending post secondary schools.

Over the next 20 years the company and the family faces the challenge of a larger and financially secure granite company established in 1907 in Rockville. With the deaths of Henry (1913) and Maggie (1917), the six young Alexanders become owners of the family’s small company.

Brothers Pat and John Alexander, the oldest and youngest sons, in a division of family property, acquire rights to the company from family members and take up the challenge of the granite business. They acquire the financial backing of business owners in nearby Cold Spring and relocate their business there. The Rockville Quarry is closed and their first quarry purchased, the Diamond Pink near St. Cloud. Because they recognize the importance of controlling the source of the stone, four quarries will be purchased this decade, including the signature "Rainbow" in Morton, Minnesota.

Over the next 10 years the annual revenue of the company grows from $133,000 to over $1.8M. The plant structures, complete with machinery and production systems designed and built by Pat, survive two fires and grow to five times its original size. John develops estimating, drafting, and sales staffs as his primary challenge, and establishes a strong and talented group of people. In 1925 a name change from Rockville to Cold Spring Granite signifies the stability and prosperity of the company.

Said an East Coast competitor in the early ‘20’s: "…(The Alexanders) were the people to watch in the granite industry. You didn’t need to be around them much to realize how important they were. Thinking way ahead always. Way ahead. Steady, unrelenting forward movement."

While the brothers never paid much attention to titles as they worked together, Pat, the first born son, eventually becomes President, and John Vice President.

The transition from producing granite for building projects to monumental work begins in 1929 as the brothers realize the depression will soon be felt in Cold Spring. With monuments only 12% of annual revenues, an aggressive plan is developed over the next two years that challenges the industry stronghold of the East Coast monument dealers. By 1913 the plant is being redesigned by Pat for monumental production, and John is working on the marketing plan. Hard hitting and unique to the industry ideas include all polished monuments featured in the Carload Dealer Plan which provides sales incentives to customers, profit and stability to the company, and the "Custom Craft Design Book" of original monument designs – a sales support kit never before seen in the industry. Additional quarry purchases are made including the first of the Milbank, South Dakota "Carnelian" quarries.

The impact of WWII is felt as a large group of young men leave for service in the armed forces on September 1, 1939. For the Company, supplies have been severely restricted and building work comes to a halt. In order to maintain the plant, John secures a defense contract and, in place of fabricated granite, triple expansion steam engines, ship bottoms, anchor chain, and pontoons for assault bridges are constructed in the plant. The Company receives several awards from the defense department as employees retain their jobs, participate in the war effort, and the plant is maintained. The end of war finds a return to building and monumental production.

John Alexander becomes President in 1945 with the sudden death of his brother, Pat.

1950 After the war, bronze plates on flat cement marker bases challenge the Company’s monument production. The challenge is faced head on with the opening of a bronze foundry to complete the development of a bronze on granite marker and the formation of the "Granit-Bronz" division. The strong return of building projects after the war brings Cold Spring its first major building project late in the decade – the Air Force Academy project. Technological improvements saw wire saws replacing steel shot saws and gang saws throughout the company. Company expansion is a major growth factor also as quarry and production locations in Texas, New York and California are purchased, along with several quarries in central Minnesota.

1960 The decade is marked by continued expansion with the purchase of numerous quarries. In 1961, the company establishes a separate monument division, Royal Melrose. Major building projects continue as the company’s market share continues to grow.

In December 1968, Tom Alexander, grandson of the founder and son of Pat, becomes President, as John Alexander becomes Chairman of the Board.

1970 Groundwork is laid for projects and trends that will affect the next 20 years of the company’s operation: Lac du Bonnet quarry in Canada is purchased; Foreign competition becomes a reality; Cold Spring sends representatives to see the revolutionary drive-in quarrying system in Finland; major building projects continue including the completion of the Bank of America in San Francisco, featuring the "Carnelian Room" high atop overlooking the city, among the major projects of the decade.

Family operation of the Company continues after the death of John Alexander in 1976, with nephew Tom Alexander remaining as President and John’s son, Pat Alexander, as Vice President of Subsidiary Operations.

1980 Pat Alexander, grandson of the founder, becomes President and CEO in 1983. This was a decade of major change within the company as a comprehensive effort was made to modernize management and business administration and the plants and quarries. The first machinery from Europe was purchased, all quarries were converted to the drive-in system, and the production of "thin" granite for building structures was begun. The International Sales Division was established and major building projects were completed for the Pacific Rim Countries; granite slabs and blocks were imported for customer projects and sale. Granite West was built in 1984, an $8 M project that specializes in the fabrication of slabs and building work.

1990 The 1990’s have been a decade dedicated to programs for quality, reliability and customer service. With a re-emphasis on monumental production undertaken in 1991, the completion of the $10 M MonuWest facility in 1996 leads the way for continued capital improvements. In addition to the completion of MonuWest and the first phase of Monument Park (the new Foundry) in 1998, technology improvements have totaled over $10 M each of the last several years. ISO 9001 certification in 1996 enhances the company’s position in both domestic and international markets.

Pat Alexander assumes the position of Chairman of the Board in 1996, with Pat Mitchell assuming the position of President.


Coldspring currently owns and operates five fabrication locations in four states and Canada, 30 quarries in six states and Canada, and has more than 1450 employees. The Company celebrated its 100th Anniversary with its employees, retirees, and guests at four locations. The 100th Anniversary date was September 29, 1998.