Mound House mason leaves legacy of heart and stone

Paul Holloway on Oct. 3, 2022 discussing Claire’s Arch, a mortarless structure he built in Mound House after being inspired by his daughter. It took 15 years to plan and build.

Paul Holloway on Oct. 3, 2022 discussing Claire’s Arch, a mortarless structure he built in Mound House after being inspired by his daughter. It took 15 years to plan and build. Photo by Scott Neuffer.

Paul Holloway can be gruff, profane, what others might call a character. The 64-year-old owner of Northeast Masonry can also be poetic when talking about craftsmanship.
“There’s a ring that comes off chisels when a bunch of men are working with chisels,” he said. “When it’s clicking, it’s a symphony.”
After half a century in the masonry business, Holloway is retiring, selling more than $1 million worth of assets in a public auction scheduled for Oct. 12-22. On Oct. 3, Holloway gave the Appeal a tour of his industrial yard in Mound House, and of the semi-famous Claire’s Arch that he spearheaded, also in Mound House. He calls the community home, and he spun stories as he walked around the yard and, later, the site of the arch.
“When it’s moving, it’s better than any job I could take,” he said of his craft. “It’s a scrappy beat. That’s what this nation needs – someone to wrestle with it. That beat is America.”
Whether they know it, residents of Carson City have probably encountered Holloway’s work. Northeast Masonry can be found in several local schools, including Carson Middle School and Western Nevada College, and in the entrance signs to town. The company’s larger projects include Legends at Sparks Marina, Kings Beach, and El Dorado Beach, where there’s “a million pounds of stonework.” It’s hard to find a local area Holloway hasn’t touched.
When talking about his business, Holloway makes a point to mention his workers, those he’s trained over the years. Their legacy is his legacy, he said. He taught them an artform, and seeing them succeed in the marketplace, beyond him, brightens his countenance.
“That’s something that I did right,” he said. “Jobs are jobs, but I care that we trained professionals. That’s something I’m proud of.”
He also makes a point of touting vocational schools, alternative forms of education that offer professional pathways and good pay.
“When we were doing Carson Middle School, it was an ironic spot for a number of men coming to build the school,” he said.
That’s because some of his workers had gotten into trouble while attending school there.
“There was nothing wrong with them; they’re just wired differently,” he said. “When I was a kid in L.A., ‘voc’ schools were for the bad kids.”
Holloway would like to change perceptions of vocational schools. He said some students just need a nudge, an outlet for their energy. Science, math, and writing all come into play on a construction site, he said.
“The math registers there,” he said. “They’re not idiots; they’re just wired differently.”
At the height of his business, Holloway had more than 80 workers in the field and six in the office. After announcing retirement, he’s seen workers he considers friends and protégés transfer their skillsets to former competitors. And it makes him proud.
“Someone needs to train the labor pool,” he said. “If I can give you one thing, I want to teach you how to work.”
Holloway himself was a young man when he joined the trade. He grew up in East L.A. in the 1970s.
“I was 15,” he said. “There was a bricklayer next door, and I needed a job. A big pack of Irish men there passed me around like a ragdoll.”
After graduating high school, Holloway joined the Peace Corps. He landed in Gabon, where he helped build schools, bathrooms, and administrative buildings. He also trained other workers. He later took his toolbox to France, where he worked with Compagnons du Devoir, a trade organization dating to the 12th century.
“These are the ones working on Notre Dame,” he explained. “Over there, a mason is respected as a professional. Here, they’re just trowel trash.”

Paul Holloway in Gabon circa 1980. (Photo courtesy of Northeast Masonry) 

Holloway attained his Nevada license in 1988 and fell in love with the geology of the state. He talked about venturing in the highlands between Carson and Virginia City, finding native stone.
“What kept me here is the geology,” he said. “The stone is beautiful. It’s perfect because there’s an economy here.”
He said Mound House gets a bad reputation, unfairly.
“It’s a smoking hub for a subcontractor,” he said, listing all of the places to work within a 60-mile radius.
Holloway showed the Appeal Claire’s Arch, which is hidden from Highway 50 by a ridgetop close to the Carson River. Fifteen years in the making, the arch was completed in 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was Holloway’s daughter Claire who, as a young girl, said she wanted an arch. He spent a decade figuring out not only the stone to use – andesite and black granite – but how to cut and place the stone. He built a custom cable saw for slicing boulders. He made certain calculations to cajole gravity to its task; for there is no mortar in Claire’s Arch. He said the project belongs not to himself, but to the workers who helped.
“When shit goes wrong out here, a man dies,” he said. “But there wasn’t a scratch on this project, not a purple fingernail.”
The arch’s formal name is Notre Dame de Miséricorde, or Our Lady of Forgiveness. Holloway described how he lived on-site during construction.
“Anything you’re possessed by, you got to see it, trip on it,” he said.
Turning back to business, Holloway said he’s auctioning mixers, scaffolding, tools, even a tiny house he built that looks like a train. He recalled the Great Recession, which hit Nevada particularly hard. Not all construction companies survived. Holloway felt tremendous pressure to provide for his workers and their families during that time.
“It wasn’t an option to stop working,” he said. “We were broad-based. We switched markets. We could do it because that’s what masons do. We lay stone and brick and think.”
Holloway said he’ll miss his workers but not the stress of running a business.
“I’d like to take a shot at living,” he joked.
He clarified he won’t stop stonework but will enjoy a second cup of coffee on Sundays.
“I won’t stop working, but I’d like to choose,” he said. “It’s my therapy. I need that part of me. It makes me whole.”
For information about the Northeast Masonry auction, visit


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