Late 1800s limestone for sale

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Limestone quarried and brought by boat to the site of the former sanitarium/Satter Building is now for sale, as a result of the demolition of the structure.

Dolomite limestone that once served as the foundation for the Prairie du Chien Sanitarium (pictured, right) is for sale from Mark Thornburg. Also, the Prairie du Chien Historical Society is in discussion with Thornburg to acquire and restore the former commandant’s quarters that sits on the same site.

Site of sanitarium, one-time commandant’s house full of history

By Correne Martin


Dolomite limestone quarried around 1880-1890 is for sale in Prairie du Chien. The historic stones of various sizes once served as the foundation for the local sanitarium.

An advertisement in the Courier Press states, “Uses are limited only by your imagination,” suggesting the stones could be utilized in retaining walls, foundations and rock gardens, to name a few. The rock includes some decorative, some that may be repurposed as capstones, etc. Both hand cut and machine cut varieties are available.

Mark Thornburg purchased the former sanitarium/general hospital—most recently known as the O.E. Satter County Building—at a sheriff’s auction in late 2018. He hired asbestos removal as well as demolition of the 1903 brick structure that began on July 24, 2019. The Dunn Street building, which still stands in part, is adjacent to the Thornburg family home.

Thornburg said local historians told him the limestone was transported to the site from Bridgeport.

According to Prairie du Chien Historical Society board member Bill Howe, 97, the limestone came by boat from two quarries along the Wisconsin River in the Bridgeport/Prairie du Chien areas.

Anyone interested in purchasing some of the dolomite limestone may call (608) 306-0581.

A majority of the Satter Building has been razed by now. 

Chad Fradette, historical society board vice-president, has been working with Thornburg, his son Mike, and Mike’s wife, April, to ensure that the historic integrity of the site is somehow incorporated into the community’s future. The society may find a use for some of the limestone as a foundation for its restoration of the two-story, French log cabin on St. Feriole Island.

Fradette said, though the true character of the sanitarium and Satter Building “was removed a long time ago,” local historians believe there are three artesian wells in the basement. He said, the society would love to work with Thornburg to uncap one. 

“Artesian wells, with tuberculosis, were thought to have healing properties,” he said.

Fradette further noted, a real gem on the Thornburg property is the commandant’s quarters, which stands upon part of the original foundation for the house built in 1826 by James Lockwood. Cols. Zachary Taylor and Willoughby Morgan and Gen. George Brooke led command while living there. The building also marks the location where Red Bird first went looking for someone to kill, in exchange for mistreatment of his tribe. John Lawler, the prominent builder of the famed pontoon railroad bridge, was the last to live there.

Fradette added another point of interest: there may be a tunnel connecting the old hospital to the commandant’s building. “In the (hospital’s) boiler room, it seems to be all bricked in there,” he said.

Since acquiring the property, Thornburg has discussed with the society the intent of giving half an acre of it and the commandant’s house to the Fort Crawford Museum. The society would like to fund-raise and reconstruct the main portion of the house, to appear as it did in 1838. 

“He’s really keyed in on the commandant’s house,” Fradette shared, noting that there was some initial consideration given to physically relocating the house to the museum property.

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