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Hans Monuments has been a family business for over 5 generations. Read a few of the news articles that have been written about us.
Dad & Co. Families Team Up On The Job
By Gib Twyman
Deseret News staff writer
Some years ago, Hans Huettlinger hand carved a headstone for one of his son’s friends who had killed himself.
“But when the eyes are blind, one must see with one’s heart,” the words said.
“I’ve remembered those words. They’ve affected my life,” Huettlinger said.
Hans Huettlinger, 62, figures the words have helped smooth the rough edges, helping him see with an appreciative eye the soothing satisfactions of building his Hans Monument Co. stone-carving business in Salt Lake City since 1958, while slowly melding it into the hands of his son, John, 36.
“I’m more temperamental that John. We may have butted heads when he was in his 20’s, but I can think of nothing more joyful that creating a business with your son. I am not a bad artist, but I can honestly say John has an eye that won’t quit and a very rare ability as an artist,” Hans said, beaming with pride that he’s passing along Salt Lake’s only pure hand stone-carving business, as he received it from ancestors in Germany.
Is Hans a good or tough boss?
“He has been a good, tough boss,” John Huettlinger said, laughing.
Noting Hans has been saying he’s “retired” since January but coming in every day nonetheless, John added, “And now he’s the best darned employee I’ve got.”
Life with father is one thing. Life with father most of your waking hours, side by side in business is another.
Gervasius Mussle answered a newspaper ad in the Black Forest community of Kenzingen, Germany.
Stone-cutter’s apprentice wanted, it said.
“Marriage possible,” it added.
So it was that Mussle entered into the trade, keeping alive a tradition that would stretch to six generations, while marrying Hans Huettlinger’s grandmother in the bargain.
Hans followed Gervasius’ footsteps, and those of Hans’ father, Johannes, beginning his apprenticeship at age 13 ½.
At age 16, Hans was an accredited stone-carver. His mother, Maria Mathilde, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and, at age, 19, Hans was on his way to Salt Lake City.
Three years later, he started his own business, living and working in a house at 1555 E. 3300 South, white he and his wife, Ursula, began rearing 5 children.
“I lived it, but it was tough getting kids to come over and play especially at night. Something about all those gravestone,” John Huettlinger said with a laugh.
John loved art and music, tried the rock musician thing in Los Angeles for a year, went to Utah State University three years, thinking of becoming an advertising illustrator.
“Gradually, I began to see this business as more and more intriguing,” he said.
After nearly 50 years in the business, having learned techniques passed down from hundreds of year of old-world craftsmen, what’s the No. 1 trade secret Hans hands to John?
“Don’t hit too hard,” Hans said.
“You’ll knock off a nose or a finger from your sculpture,” John said.
“He also told me, ‘You won’t be a real stonecutter until you’ve scraped enough skin off yourself to make an apron,’” John said.
The business requires toughness with its artistic touch.
“You’re always applying leverage. Your forearms, hands, stomach muscles take a beating,”John said.
That goes even in the area of new technology, with air hammers somewhat replacing the ancient chisel-and-hammer.
“I bet Michelangelo wished he had an air hammer,” John said.
Some old methodology applies, such as the pointer tool, used to lay out a sculpture from a block of stone.
“It’s mathematics, as well as art,” John said. “First you envision. Then you plan. Pretty soon a hand emerges. Then an arm.”
The business is not just about Hans and John. Ursula, with whom Hans celebrates 42 years of marriage this month, draws layouts. Daughters Monica and Debbie do everything from accounting to computer programming.
Only Hans and John share another love: performing. John’s a drummer with the band, the Disco Drippers, long popular at several local nightspots. Hans sings everyone from Sinatra to Humperdinck to Elvis at weddings and parties and even had a short Vegas stint.
But stones represent the real rock music to their ears. John and his wife, Marion, have two children, Liliana, 4, and Gunther Wolfgang, 5 months. Already, it doesn’t seem too early to contemplate passing stone carving on to the kids.
“Like my father I won’t force them, but I really don’t see why I shouldn’t be thinking about it right now,” John said.
Not to worry, they didn’t change it to Leopard House or Tiger House. It’s still a lion that adorns the balcony over the Lion House entryway but now it’s a brand new one.
The original lion which now resides with the Museum of Church History and Art was carved in the early 1850s by sculptor William Ward while the Lion House was under construction. It had stood the test of time a century and a half as well as anything made of sandstone could, but it had lost much of it’s detail, and museum director Glen Leonard and senior administrator of art, Robert Davis, thought it was time to commission a replacement.
So they called upon the talents of Johann “Hans” Huettlinger and his son. John, of Hans Monuments to create a new lion that would look just like the old one did when the house originally one of Brigham Young’s family residences, now better known as a restaurant was new.
To do that, the Huettlingers took a 1,500-pound block of sandstone quarried near Torrey, Wayne County, and over three years converted it into a 900-pound lion.
“It too awhile, but it was a fun job, a once-in-a-lifetime project,” said Hans Huettlinger, who gives his son credit for doing most of the work. “I roughed it out three years ago and he finished it. He’s better at it than I am,” he said.
Original sculptor Ward was an Englishman (whereas Hans was born and trained in Germany), who came to Utah only a few years after the first party of Mormon pioneers. He was trained in architecture and drafting and is said to have made the first artist’s rendering of the Salt Lake Temple. He left Utah in the mid-1850s for a time but later returned to join the faculty of the fledging University of Deseret, now known as the University of Utah.
Hopefully, the new Lion House lion will be around another 150 years before it needs replacing, but Davis says that depends on a lot of things, including the intrinsic hardness of the sandstone and environmental factors such as weather and air quality.
Although the original lion is now in the museum’s care, it is not currently on display and may never be. Davis said that only about 5 percent of the museum’s collection is on display at any given time.
When Brigham Young visited England in the early 1840’s, he was impressed by the architectural landmarks he saw, and later brought some of that architectural style to Salt Lake City. His Lion House in this city is among the examples of Old Country architecture, an English Gothic Tudor style building, complete with battlements above the entrance and a carved stone lion on the portico.
The lion on the portico has been a source of public interest since 1856. However, the regal stone is beginning to crumble with age and from weathering and is in jeopardy of total ruin if left outdoors. So, to preserve to original one of the five most significant pieces of early pioneer sculpture it will be placed in the Museum of Church History and Art, said Richard G. Oman, senior curator.
The lion carving, and four other significant pioneer carvings, all commissioned by Brigham Young, are the Eagle Gate, the Beehive on the Beehive House, the organ casing of the Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ, and the Utah Stone that is in the Washington Monument at the U.S. Capital. All were created by English convert pioneers, and all still exist.
After an extensive effort by historians and master stone carvers, an exact replica has been completed that will replace the badly deteriorated original lion. The new carving was to be hoisted by crane to its Lion House perch early May 12.
“It’s a fantastic piece,” said Hans Huettlinger, the master stone carver who handled the project, and whose son, John, did the detail work. The fourth-generation German artisan and Church member, who also carved replicas of other historic monuments, was apprenticed at age 12 and studied under a master in Germany for seven year before immigrating to the United States. Much of their work was in restoring medieval cathedrals that had been damaged during World War II. Here, in Salt Lake City, he established Hans Monument Co. His son, John, also trained in traditional stone work, is a graduate in art from Utah State University.
To make the replica, the original carving was modeled in fiberglass. Effaced areas were built up and details recaptured through studying historical photographs and other pieces by the same artist, William Ward. Years and months of effort went into the project to replicate Ward’s original, although most of the detail work was completed in the last three and half months, he said.
The tawny, lion-colored replica carving has been coated with sealant to help preserve it from the weathering that damaged its predecessor.
The first lion was also carved by a master artisan. William Ward, architectural assistant for the Salt Lake Temple, was trained as a stonemason by his father and was apprenticed at age 7. He worked under a master in English Gothic Revival tradition, the prevailing style of the Salt Lake Temple as well as the Lion House.
Although there are many stories about why the lion was made, such as influences from Brigham Young’s birthplace in Vermont, it is likely that the influence felt by Brigham during his stay in England, coupled with the English training of William Ward, simply suggested including a lion such as those that proliferate in British architecture.
Abundance of Dreams
With little money but an abundance of dreams, Hans Huettlinger left Germany 25 years ago carrying his belongings in a single suitcase.
Today he is carving that memory in a stone. Huettlinger is chiseling the finishing touches on a 5-foot-8-inch, 1-ton, black granite monument symbolizing an immigrantís emotions about his journey to a new land.
'The monument is for all who came in the last 300 years and all who will come,' Huettlinger explained. It is being prepared for a celebration marking the 300th year since German immigrants began arriving in America.
The monument will be dedicated Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. as a German-American Tricentennial Committee project. The ceremony will be in Salt Lake International Peace Gardens in Jordan Park, 10th South 9th West.
On Oct. 6, 1683, 46 members of 13 Mennonite families, led by Franz Daniel Pastorious, arrived in the United States, hoping to escape religious persecution. They settled an area of Pennsylvania that would become known as Germantown. German-Americans across the country are observing the event.
As a child in Germany, Huettlinger learned a poem describing a voyage of German immigrants to a new home. It tells of their apprehension and sorrow over leaving their beloved Black Forest and their hope of a better life in a foreign land. Huettlinger thought the poem was perfect for the tricentennial.
The Salt Lake German community raised $1,000 to purchase the black granite. Huettlinger and his wife Ursula paid to ship the stone from Vermont. He and his son John are donating the labor.
Hans Huettlinger caught the Christmas spirit early this year-and in a very unusual way; he has carved a nativity scene in granite.
Last summer a runaway trailer rolled through Salt Lake City Cemetery, narrowly missing a number of monuments but finally hitting and damaging three in the Mount Calvary section. Hans Huettlinger, stone sculptor, has replaced two of them and is presently putting the finishing touches on the third.
This monument is the biggest challenge for Hans, requiring all the ingenuity and expertise he can muster. Included in his design is a 32-inch circular nativity scene where the figures of Joseph, Mary and the Christ child are sculpted in high relief.
Hans, well aware of challenges and problems of this assignment, was eager to tackle it anyway. He was confident he could do a good job, even thought the request was different from anything he had attempted to date.
One of the first problems was to reproduce the figures in the exact size and shape of those in the damaged monument. This was facilitated by using a point-setting machine loaned to him by a sculptor friend. This ingenious device accurately compares the measurements of all sculptured areas in both monuments, making it possible to carve an exact duplicate.
Another problem was carving a concave shell and a four-and-half inch deep sculpture. This was achieved by using an air drill, an air hammer, and a variety carbidetipped chisels.
A third problem was removing the many undercuts without breaking off strategic pieces of granite. Although considerably harder than marble, granite is more brittle. If a piece is accidentally broken, it cannot be replaced.
The 2600-pound granite slab chosen for this project was quarried in Canada and has finer grain than local granite. In fact, Utah granite is not used for monuments, since it is too porous and the color contrast in stone detracts from any sculpture elements. Although granite from Little Cottonwood Canyon was used for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, only a limited amount of carving was done, and nothing in fine detail.
What normally would take some sculptors several in months to accomplish, Hans has done in approximately 90 hours-70 hours on the nativity scene and an additional 16 on the remainder of the monument.
Although the nativity scene is carved, the lettering and trim designs are engraved with a sandblaster. A protective rubber sheet is placed over the granite, and designs are carved into the rubber and removed, forming a stencil. Then, an air current carrying sand is etched into the exposed areas to desired depth.
As you compare the two sculptures, it is that Hans has successfully duplicated the original. However, upon closer examination, you can see the anatomical irregularities in the original are absent in Hans' piece. Asked about that, Hans remarked that the sculptor reserves the right to add his own touch and improve the original model.
Hans is no novice to monument carving. He is a fifth-generation stone sculptor. Born in the Black Forest, Germany, Hans came to America in 1958 and worked for several years at the Otto Buehner Co. In 1967 he established his own business 1555 East 33rd South. He hires no helpers, except for his wife, who does the office work.
When the monument is completed, it will be transported to the Renaldi family plot in the Mount Calvary Cemetery and will be in place for the holiday season.