Today marks end of Candoro tours

Betsy PickleSouth Knox

Fall is a time of endings, and today is the public’s last chance this year to tour the Candoro Arts & Heritage Center and enjoy the “Rock of Ages” exhibit on the East Tennessee marble industry. Candoro, 4450 Candora Ave., has offered the free Sunday tours, 2-5 p.m., since April.

Just like a garden, Candoro will bloom again. Tours are planned for April-October of 2018.

“Rock of Ages” was a big hit with attendees of the Candoro Fall Homecoming two Sundays ago. People of all ages from around the area came to steep themselves in marble history, participate in family-friendly activities, listen to music, enjoy food-vendor offerings and shop at a variety of vendor booths.

A banner in the “Rock of Ages” exhibit gives a sense of how highly Knoxville marble was regarded.

Candoro’s “Rock of Ages” is the offspring of the recent eponymous exhibit hosted by the East Tennessee History Center for several months. Based on research by Dr. Susan Knowles, the exhibit included information and artifacts that told the story of the marble industry, particularly East Tennessee’s important role in supplying marble for nationally recognized buildings and sculptures.

Most of the artifacts were privately owned and not available to Candoro, but the ETHC gave Candoro the digital files of the exhibit.

“We had to reproduce them if we were going to create an exhibit for Candoro, using that same information,” said Molly Gilbert, Candoro board chair. “But it has all the beautiful artwork, all the photography, all the research, all the text. Everything was already compiled and edited and curated as an exhibit by their professional staff.

“It was a tremendous amount of work and energy and effort and professionalism that went into the ‘Rock of Ages’ exhibit that we basically inherited at no charge. To only have to pay for the reproduction is really minor in the grand scheme of things.”

The exhibit was reproduced on trade-show banners so that it could be mobile.

“It’s a permanent exhibit, but it’s not built into the wall,” said Gilbert.

“We have such a small footprint in the building. We knew that we needed to keep the flexibility of our rooms, so we wanted to be able to tell the marble history story, but we didn’t want to limit how the building itself was used. So each of the banners is easily portable, and that gives us the flexibility to be able to show part of the exhibit and then rotate it to give people a reason to come back for Sunday tours.

“The other benefit to having them be portable is we can take them to school groups, garden clubs, Rotary, whichever community groups would like to have us come. We are looking for opportunities to come out and present this information to those groups. We want folks to come see us, and then we want to go see them.”

Gilbert said they also hope to open Candoro by appointment for groups.

Gilbert said her predecessor, Sharon Davis, started the process of obtaining the “Rock of Ages” exhibit. Davis was on hand for the Fall Homecoming.

“She initially made the connection with the history museum,” said Gilbert. “She was proud to see this come about.”

Candoro is looking for partners who would like to display parts of the exhibit. The nonprofit group is also asking for donations to help cover the $4,400 cost of printing. Visit candoromarble.org.

Sisters Sylvia Woods and Sharon Davis check out a jewelry booth at the Candoro Homecoming. Photos by Betsy Pickle

How the “Marble City” moniker came about.

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