Built in 1923 as an office and showroom for the Candoro Marble Company, the Candoro Marble Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places(2005). Purchased by the Aslan Foundation in 2014, they aimed to renovate and restore the building for public use. In 2021, they celebrated two years of hard work and reaching that goal. Last weekend, they threw a bash to honor its 100th birthday!
On hand to help celebrate this historic centennial birthday was one of the leaders in investing in the renovation from early on, Trudy Monaco. Trudy told stories of her early years working toward the refurbishment of the Candoro Marble Building, taking the building from being overgrown with vines, no plumbing, stripped wiring, tiles falling from the roof, stolen copper guttering and flooring removed from the back room, asbestos in the basement and more damage to working condition. Vestival, a South Knoxville Art and Heritage Center Festival (now the Candoro Arts and Heritage Center), was the driving force, along with several angel investors, behind stabilizing this building and adding it to the National Register of Historic Places. This ongoing festival still supports the Vestal community.
Other speakers on hand were Kelly Headden, a representative from Barber McMurray Architecture, Brandon Pace of Sanders-Pace Architects and CEO Andrea Bailey of the Aslan Foundation. The speakers addressed the crowd from the former carriage house that displays a wall of different types of marble and the historic structural characteristics, such as horse and carriage hitching posts.
Tri-Star Arts now occupies the Candoro Marble building. It houses a main office, gallery space, and four artist studios. Currently, you can view the photography of Bruce Cole, who specializes in architectural and cultural heritage photography and is an instructor at the University of Tennessee School of Art in the main gallery. Each room in the building has its own theme and marble designs creating a new feel at each turn of your tour. I was struck by the detail and beauty of the spaces open for touring and marveled at the history all around me.
I chatted with artist Risa Hricovsky in her studio as she worked on a porcelain wall installation. This was not our first conversation as she and I connected over her showpiece above the fireplace in the Downtown Marriott Hotel inside the Maker Exchange. Risa enjoys the peacefulness of the space in Candoro Marble and the inspiration of many creatives who have been there before and with her.
Molly Jo Events coordinated the celebration, including birthday party hats, live music by the talented Old City Buskers, and hors d’oeuvres from Mill and Mine catering. The event concluded with a birthday cake by Art of Cakes Bakery.
Invited guests all had a connection to Candoro Marble through its renovation, artist studios, and many who invested in other ways to preserve the history of this building and what the company meant to Knoxville. Some of the marble that helped create the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, came through the Candoro Marble Company. In its heyday, Knoxville had around 50 quarries, genuinely justifying the nickname of “Marble City.” You can read more about the history here.
Suppose you want to see this beautiful “jewel box” (I love this fitting description coined by Andrea Bailey.). In that case, you can visit Tuesdays-Saturdays 11-5, except on major holidays. For more information on the services of Tri-Star Arts, reach out to Brian Jobe at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to host an event at Canodro Marble, contact Molly Jo Events. To learn more about the history, click the links above.