• NOVEMBER 19, 2016 - APRIL 30, 2017
  • East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville
  • Every 1 week(s) between
    November 19, 2016 and April 30, 2017
  • Category: Art & Museum Exhibits

Event Details

  • Every 1 week(s) between
    November 19, 2016 and April 30, 2017
  • Mondays, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Tuesdays, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Wednesdays, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Thursdays, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Fridays, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Saturdays, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sundays, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Museum admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for seniors, and FREE for children under 16.


  • East Tennessee History Center
  • 601 South Gay Street
  • Knoxville, TN 37902

Event Description

East Tennessee marble is prized the world over. Rock of Ages: East Tennessee’s Marble Industry, a new exhibition by the East Tennessee Historical Society, offers a first-time look into the industry that launched the rock’s fame and crowned Knoxville as the Marble City. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, November 19, at the Museum of East Tennessee History. The marble industry was once an important sector of East Tennessee’s economy. By the mid- 1850s, East Tennessee marble from Knox County had been chosen for the interiors of the Tennessee State Capitol and marble from Hawkins County was being installed inside the new House and Senate wings of the United States Capitol. In the decades that followed, East Tennessee’s varicolored marble was sought by architects and patrons for the interiors of a variety of public buildings: state capitol buildings, courthouses, city halls. Tennessee marble would soon also be ordered for high traffic railroad terminal flooring across the United States and Canada. In the 1870s, with the example of Knoxville’s handsome new Custom House, the marble became known for its strength and durability as an exterior stone. The Custom House marble was extracted from a quarry in the Forks of the River district, near the confluence of the French Broad and Holston Rivers. By 1873, this quarry was being operated by the Knoxville Marble Company, one of East Tennessee’s first modern marble businesses. Others were soon to follow on both sides of the Tennessee River, the Crescent Marble Company in the Boyd’s Bridge area provided marble for the Memphis Custom House (completed 1885) and the Ross and Mead Marble quarries, developed by John M. Ross in the Island Home section furnished marble for two exemplary museum buildings: the Morgan Library (1906) and the National Gallery of Art (1941). While the Mead quarry pit is now filled with water, the integrity of the Ross quarry has been preserved. Both quarries are situated in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, within the Ijams Nature Center. What remains of the industrial landscape includes a rock wall created from marble waste blocks, two intact pits that demonstrate bench quarrying techniques, historic road traces and railroad berms, scattered piles and stacks of marble blocks, and the location of the former railroad bed. Along this same railroad line, about 4 miles south in the Vestal neighborhood, is the Candoro Marble Company’s office and mill buildings. Candoro, founded in 1914, housed a marble mill, finishing plant, and shipping office for the John J. Craig Companies, which had quarries in both Knox and Blount counties. The company office building, a Beaux Arts masterpiece designed by Knoxville architect Charles Barber in 1923, is a fine example of exterior use of light pink marble. The interior walls and floors served as a showroom for the types and finishes of marble offered by the company. Reminders of the once prominent Tennessee marble industry can be seen today, in late 19th, early 20th century buildings on Gay Street and other corners of downtown, in building facades, steps and entranceways, and interior lobbies. The Knoxville Post Office and Federal Building on Main Street is a particularly fine example dating from the 1930s. And Knoxville, a city that has won national recognition for historic preservation, continues to embrace its marble heritage in modern buildings. Notice how seamlessly the new three-story East Tennessee History Center adjoins the original Custom House and how the exterior marble of the contemporary Knoxville Museum of Art brings the building’s formal geometry to life. The exhibition includes more than two dozen artifacts and numerous photographs and illustrations representative of Tennessee’s unique marble story. Some feature items include a footed marble dish, c. 1861, owned by John Hasson (1823-1901), a New Yorker who was involved in the Tennessee marble industry by 1857, when he founded the Hasson Marb

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