By Nathan Vickers
ASH GROVE, Mo. (KOLR/CNN) - A limestone worker is sharing his passion for history with his clients.
Streams of water keep limestone dust in the air to a minimum as Freddy Flores saws his way through another massive limestone slab. He's a professional stonecutter, a rare craftsman of a forgotten art that died out once builders found cheaper materials in the 1930s.
"Architects were looking at these new formulas for concrete. Strong as stone, and a fraction of the cost," said Flores.
The place of Flores' workshop is nearly forgotten too. In its heyday, The Phenix Quarry was one of the top limestone marble producers in the nation.
"Decades before Springfield households had electricity you could live here in a beautiful stone home supplied by the company," he said.
You'll find slabs of rock from the old Phenix in most of Springfield's buildings downtown, the Missouri state capital, and even the New York Stock Exchange.
But after the great depression and two world wars, marble building blocks became a thing of the past, and the city surrounding the quarry became a thing of the past.
"Most of the guys who had a passion for this type of industry had been dispersed all over the world. Or overseas fighting in battles. So there wasn't really anybody to do this type of work anyway," said Flores.
One old dilapidated stone house is one of the last remnants of the original factory town. But even today there's still a demand for the same kind of high quality stone like the kind you'll find in the Ozarks.
"Our grade of marble is one of the highest grades, but I think what's more interesting to the customer is that it's full of fossils and beautiful evidence of a marine environment here," said Flores.
He says he's been finding a niche market among people who want a slab of Ozarks craft in their home.
"It's just the creative process. Most of the customers I work with are doing something that's interesting," he said.
Flores now cuts as many as 120 limestone slabs a year, including this piece for the home of a Branson performer.
The Phenix Quarry is a registered historical site, but it is closed to the public.