Leland Stone: A Gentleman’s Gentleman

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Leland Stone discusses a future bathtub display, which is placed upon an antique factory cart. Photo by Page Graham.

Leland Stone discusses a future bathtub display, which is placed upon an antique factory cart. Photo by Page Graham.

To say that Leland Stone runs a hardware store would be as misleading as stating that he has merely refurbished the Roosevelt Library. This is a fascinating tale about Leland Stone (the man), Stone Standard (his business), and the Roosevelt Library (the building in which it is housed). Let’s parse this complex story into its three basic components, starting with the building.

Interior of the newly-renovated Roosevelt Library. Photo by Page Graham

Interior of the newly-renovated Roosevelt Library. Photo by Page Graham

Built in 1929, the Roosevelt Library was among the first “suburban” libraries built in San Antonio. Situated at 311 Roosevelt Avenue, across from Roosevelt Park, the building is quite similar in character to the San Pedro Park Library, which was completed in 1930.

Very little is known about the history of the building. Stone was unable to turn up any original information about it, such as the original blueprints. As a result, what he does know is either engraved in the building’s cornerstone, or through conjecture. At some point, the library was converted to a municipal building, ultimately becoming the home of the San Antonio Fire and Police Pension Fund.

The front facade of the Roosevelt Library, built in 1929. Photo by Page Graham.

The front facade of the Roosevelt Library, built in 1929. Photo by Page Graham.

In the process, the interior was converted into a very utilitarian set of offices and cubicles. A basement was dug out at some point, and a semicircular addition was placed on the back, facing Roosevelt Avenue. This space was used by Pension Fund employees as a kitchen and break room.

The building was acquired by Stone last September. It’s somewhat unusual for a treasure like this to fall into private hands, but in this case, it has worked out very well. Stone wasted no time in converting the interior from a drab office space into its current beauty. He worked quickly enough to be able to host a Thanksgiving dinner in the main hall.

Plumbing fixtures as art? Of course. The basement gallery of the Roosevelt Library. Photo by Page Graham.

Plumbing fixtures as art? Of course. The basement gallery of the Roosevelt Library. Photo by Page Graham.

At this point, only one basement room and the kitchen await completion. Ultimately, the kitchen will be updated with high-end European appliances, which are available through Stone Standard.

The main space was bisected by two sets of pocket doors in the two arches located in the main hall.

These were removed and the doors themselves converted into cupboard doors for a cabinet used to hold glassware and china, located in a room adjacent to the hall.

The flooring has been updated to oak planks with a dark finish. The room itself is now dominated by a conference table made from repurposed Longleaf Pine.

Stone’s office is immediately to the left of the entry, where he conducts his business from an antique round table.

Leland Stone's office. Photo by Page Graham.

Leland Stone’s office. Photo by Page Graham.

A six-foot Steinway grand piano is tucked in the corner, awaiting use in concerts and other events held there. A sound system provides aural stimulation throughout the building; we listened to Bach piano concertos as we toured the facility.

The current incarnation of the Roosevelt Library is actually intended to be used for multiple purposes, including events that are open to the public. As such, it is being utilized by several partner businesses: Crave Market, Frost 321, KBK to the Trade, Sanderson Antiques and Design, and Vinously Speaking.

One of the basement alcoves of the Roosevelt Library is currently filled with this treasure trove. Photo by Page Graham.

One of the basement alcoves of the Roosevelt Library is currently filled with this treasure trove. Photo by Page Graham.

If you’re curious about this building, and happen to enjoy piano jazz, a concert featuring John Rangel will be at the Roosevelt Library this Friday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 each, which includes a cocktail supper. To RSVP, you may contact Leland Stone via email: leland@stonestandard.com.

This building has gone from drab and utilitarian to an ethereal feast for the senses. And that brings us to learning more about the business conducted within.

Leland Stone, proprietor of Stone Standard, in front of the Roosevelt Library. Photo by Page Graham

Leland Stone, proprietor of Stone Standard, in front of the Roosevelt Library. Photo by Page Graham.

At its most fundamental level, Stone Standard is in the residential hardware business. But there is not one item that you’ll ever find at your local big box store. Everything is strictly top-of-the-line, and an amazing variety of products is available for procurement. If you’re building a country estate or updating your city house, this is your go-to place.

Perrin & Rowe faucet. The bottom knob controls temperature; the upper knob pressure. It keeps a constant temperature and pressure, even if a toilet gets flushed. Photo by Page Graham.

Perrin & Rowe faucet. The bottom knob controls temperature; the upper knob pressure. It keeps a constant temperature and pressure, even if a toilet gets flushed. Photo by Page Graham.

But there’s more to it than that.

Upscale clients, like those whom Stone Standard cater to, are very busy people who are particular in their needs. And Leland Stone has the perfect background to keep these clients more than satisfied. Stone began his education as an undergraduate student at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

He went on to taking care of properties for well-to-do clients, whose every household need he would attend to. This experience served him well.

Whether it’s a hidden electronic door latch you place your palm over to activate, or an antique-style faucet with custom Latin labels, he can source it. And not only that, he will have them installed and repaired at a cost that is fair and reasonable to the customer.

Over time, he has grown this business to become the current incarnation called Stone Standard.

Joseph Deutz, Jr., Great Grandfather of Leland Stone. Photo courtesy Stone Standard.

Joseph Deutz, Jr., Great Grandfather of Leland Stone. Photo courtesy Stone Standard.

Aside from the service aspect of the business, Stone comes from a long line of hardware store owners. His great-great-grandfather and his great-grandfather, Joseph Deutz, Sr. and Jr. respectively, ran Deutz Brothers Hardware and Plumbing Store in Laredo, Texas, founded in 1879. A diverse background, indeed. And that takes us to the man himself…

Leland Stone is a quiet and elegantly understated gentleman with a youthful vivacity whose deeds speak louder than his words – he simply knows how to get things done. Always impeccably turned out, he has a penchant for bow ties and wingtip shoes.

As a King William resident, he is often seen being chauffered around in one of his vintage black S-class Mercedes Benz automobiles. During our visit, he was constantly attended to by his right-hand man, Shih-Hua Fuh, who was sporting a blue-and-white pinstripe apron. Fuh was constantly, yet quietly and efficiently, bringing Stone’s phone, containing a message, or perhaps updating him on what was happening around us as we toured the building.

But the inscrutable nature of a gentleman like this can make it challenging to get the know his true mettle. So in order to accomplish this task, I requested via email that he respond to the Proust Questionnaire. Originally developed by French writer Marcel Proust in 1890, this questionnaire has been popular ever since as a way of discovering the insights and personality of even the most sophisticated individual. Without further ado, here are the questions and Stone’s responses:

  • Your favorite virtue: Integrity
  • Your favorite qualities in a man: Even-keeled
  • Your favorite qualities in a woman: Levelheaded
  • Your chief characteristic: Host
  • What you appreciate the most in your friends: Flexibility
  • Your main fault: Being human
  • Your favorite occupation: Inventing
  • Your idea of happiness: Taking others outside of their comfort zone to a place that they find enjoyable.
  • Your idea of misery: Seated at a performance between strangers.
  • If not yourself, who would you be? Willy Wonka
  • Where would you like to live? San Antonio!
  • Your favorite color and flower: Between Air Force Blue and Celadon Green
  • Your favorite prose author: Poe
  • Your favorite poet: Shakespeare
  • Your favorite hero in fiction: Sherlock Holmes
  • Your favorite heroines in fiction: Katniss Everdeen
  • Your favorite painters and composers: Monet, Mozart
  • Your heroes in real life: My father
  • Your favorite heroines in real life: My mother
  • Your favorite food and drink: Salad, Carrot Juice
  • Your favorite names: Daemon, Alexander
  • What I hate the most: People that don’t follow through
  • World history characters I hate the most: Kim Jong-un
  • The military event I admire the most: French Revolution
  • The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with: Music
  • How I wish to die: Quickly
  • What is your present state of mind: Fluid
  • For what fault have you most toleration? Disorganization
  • Your favorite motto: Carpe Noctum (“Seize the night”)

The last word in this article has be reserved to notable local resident and bon vivant Suhail Arastu, who had these eloquent words to say about Leland Stone:

A fifth generation San Antonian – born in Tokyo, educated from Berlin to New York & Singapore – Leland Stone bears the essence of cosmopolitan fabric in this town. He is a man of both integrity & intrigue; he maintains the legacy of his great-great-grandfather’s trade with austere elegance and lives life to the fullest. His latest undertaking, the grand restoration of The Roosevelt Library, is nothing short of a marvel.

*Featured/top image: Leland Stone discusses a future bathtub display, which is placed upon an antique factory cart. Photo by Page Graham.

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One thought on “Leland Stone: A Gentleman’s Gentleman

  1. When I was in high school in the late sixties a classmate of mine used to live there. His father, Dr. Smouse had a chiropractic practice in the building.

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