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Brownstone is a brown Triassic - Jurassic   sandstone that was once a popular building material. The term is also used in the United States to refer to a townhouse clad in this, or any of a number of aesthetically similar materials. In the 19th century, Basswood Island , Wisconsin , was the site of a quarry run by the Bass Island Brownstone Company which operated from into the s. The brownstone from this and other quarries in the Apostle Islands was in great demand, with brownstone from Basswood Island being used in the construction of the first Milwaukee County Courthouse in the s. Hummelstown brownstone is extremely popular along the East Coast of the United States , with numerous government buildings from the U. The stone comes from the Hummelstown Quarry in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania , a small town outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Hummelstown Quarry is the largest provider of brownstone on the east coast. Typically, the stone was transported out of Hummelstown through the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad or taken by truck up to the Erie Canal. Portland brownstone , a.