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‘MTSU On the Record’ finds treasure in...

‘MTSU On the Record’ finds treasure in East Tennessee marble industry

The rock that made East Tennessee famous was the basis of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Susan Knowles, a digital humanities research fellow at the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, first aired July 26 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

Dr. Susan Knowles, digital humanities research fellow at the Center for Historic Preservation (Photo submitted)
Dr. Susan Knowles
Gina K. Logue, MTSU News and Media Relations specialist
Gina K. Logue

You can hear their conversation via the SoundCloud link below.

Knowles wrote her doctoral dissertation on Tennessee marble in civic architecture. The pinkish-gray limestone, which is referred to as marble although geologists do not classify it as such, is found mostly in Knox, Blount, Union, Loudon and Hawkins counties.

Noted for how easy it is to polish, the highly popular marble has been used in the construction of numerous public buildings, including Grand Central Terminal in New York City; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; and the columns and balustrades of the House and Senate gallery staircases and marble walls in the U.S. Capitol.

This is a close-up of part of a finished Tennessee marble block at the Ross Marble Quarry section of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville.
This is a close-up of part of a finished Tennessee marble block at the Ross Marble Quarry section of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

“The rise in luxury building like we see all over Tennessee right now does mean there’s a demand,” Knowles said. “You have these fancier floors, counters, bathrooms … I think there’s a big market (for it), and there’s been a lot of recognition and awareness.”

Knowles’ research was highlighted in “Rock of Ages: East Tennessee’s Marble Industry,” which was displayed at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville from November 2016 to May 2017.

For more on the exhibit and to see Knowles in the videos “Rock of Ages: Working East Tennessee Marble” and “Rock of Ages: East Tennessee Marble’s Legacy,” visit www.easttnhistory.org/RockofAges.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

These Assyrian lionesses that were sculpted for the entrance to the McKim Building of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City in 1907 were sculpted from pink marble that was sourced from south Knoxville's John Ross Marble Company.
A pair of Assyrian lionesses mark the entrance to the McKim Building of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City in this 1907 photo. The pieces were sculpted from pink marble sourced from south Knoxville’s John Ross Marble Company. (Photo from Tennessee Pink Marble Trail Facebook page)

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