Frank Sprague | Artisan Profile
Like any resourceful Vermonter, Frank Sprague is a man of diverse talents. As a master stonemason, he turns native granite culled from the surrounding woods into the beautiful birdbaths, benches, and tables that he sells to customers around the country. And when the stonework isn’t occupying his time, he’s at the forge, turning out wrought-iron gates, railings, and fences for the home and custom work for industrial clients.
Sprague’s skills are rooted in a love of the craft and his dairy-farm childhood, where mastering trades was part of daily life. After 18 years as an engineer, he set up shop in Whitingham in 2001; in 2008 he bought a small property along the north fork of the Deerfield River in Wilmington. In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene tested every bit of his resourcefulness. Sprague had moved his equipment 10 feet off the floor, but the floods still left his shop under 13 feet of water. With limited insurance, he patched together small-business loans, a Rotary Club grant, and money from friends to rebuild on higher ground.
Today, Frank Sprague and his dog still roam the woods looking for that perfect stone for his next project. “That’s the fun part,” he says. “I bring them back to the shop and match colors and textures and work with the natural designs in the stone. I don’t change the outside shape at all.” For his birdbaths, he deftly hollows out the basin, then fits the top to the pedestal. And then it’s complete: a unique sculpture carved from material as durable as the man who created it.