NEWS

Owner of Quincy granite company still solid as a rock after 89 years

Gary Higgins

Linda Montillo climbs into the cab and positions a crank on the forklift as a nylon strap is positioned around an unfinished granite block. With a careful sequence of clutch-and-stick shift actions, she slowly hoists the huge stone off the ground, then navigates a fluid three-point turn.

It is difficult to imagine how different times were nearly 50 years ago, when she first took the key and taught herself to operate the lift. But it’s clear granite is in her blood, given her passion for an industry that has helped shape Quincy’s history.

“Because of the quarries, Quincy was the granite center of the world,” said Montillo, now 89.

Her father, a second- generation granite worker from Italy, immigrated to Quincy in the early 1900s. In 1920, he opened A. Monti Granite Co., located then, as now, on Centre Street in South Quincy, not far from the quarries that then helped define the city.

“There were people from all over the world working in Quincy granite,” she said. “They came from Finland, Spain, Italy – all over.”

Workers would unearth the granite in large blocks, Montillo recalls, placing it so that her family’s company and others could pick the size they needed. Back then, it would be lugged away on a horse-drawn cart to a plant to refine.

The memories are special for Montillo because they are personal, given the “real sense of community” among people who worked together and lived together.

“My father would bring workers home and feed them and sometimes provide a place to sleep,” Montillo said. “My mother never had much notice, but she always had enough for whoever showed up.”

When her father retired in the mid-1950s, he gave Linda an ultimatum: “Either run the business or shut it down.”

She’s been in charge since.

“We learned to do everything, whether it was lining up work, washing stone, moving stone, cutting stone, loading stone,” Montillo said. “We had to do it all.”

In its peak years, the A. Monti Granite Co. had dozens of workers, producing ornate granite for buildings, statues, monuments and memorials.

Today, the business is smaller, consisting of Linda, her son John, Ed Amuzzini and a small clerical staff. Their focus is crafting memorial stones and public monuments.

One of the most satisfying things about her work and Quincy granite, Montillo said, is that it lasts. Just like her.

And she’s proud of her company, her city and the rock on which it was founded.

“At St. Mary’s Cemetery (in Quincy), some of the monuments are over 150 years old and they look as nice as the day they put them in,” said Montillo. “That’s because they are Quincy granite.”

READ MORE about Quincy granite.

The Patriot Ledger