“The finest white marble in the world.” - Giuseppe Moretti

Lovers of marble, serious students of sculpture and the seriously curious should consider going TWICE to Sylacauga’s ‘Magic of Marble Festival’ — two different times this year.

Once, early. Say April 2 or 3. The first few days.

Then again, later. Say April 12 or 13. The last days.


To see the progress made on the sculptures. Shapes are forming. Faces are becoming recognizable. The almost magical handiwork of the sculptors becomes evident to the eye. 

You can pick out several sculptures or sculptors that interest you the first time you go. Real progress will have been made by the time you return for your second visit. You can see how the work has progressed and where it is going.

The annual event is April 2-13 at Sylacauga’s Bluebell Central Park. It’s right across from the classic entrance to the building which houses the famous ice cream works.

When I was a kid, living there, I made the mistake of calling the ice cream plant a crematorium. I was humorously corrected. It is a creamery. Bluebell creamery. Downtown Sylacauga.

Over 25 American sculptors, some Alabama locals, will spend April 2-13 creating unique sculptures, all made of, you guessed it, Sylacauga marble. They will be joined by one invited sculptor from Italy.

“The world’s largest commercial deposit of cream-white marble.”  That’s the slogan penned on Sylacauga’s marble quarries in the early 1900s.

For more information, visit here. 

Chances are, you have seen marble from the quarries of Sylacauga but did not realize it. Marble used in construction does not usually display a brand name.

If you see a building with gleaming white marble, it likely came from Sylacauga. Here are just a few of the structures in which a little piece of Alabama went into the building and remains there for many lifetimes. An impressive list:

The Chrysler Mausoleum (NY),

the Al Jolson Shrine (CA).

the translucent ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.,

the United States Supreme Court Building (most of the interior, except the courtroom) in Washington D.C.,

the National Metropolitan Bank Building in Washington D.C.,

the Army and Navy Club Building in Washington D.C.,

the rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Manhattan,

the Mercedes-Benz showroom in Manhattan,

the Old Chicago Main Post Office,

the Kesner Building in Chicago,

the University Club in Chicago,

the Select Council Chamber of City Hall in Philadelphia,

the Brown Marx Building in Birmingham, Alabama,

the Florence Hotel in Birmingham, and

the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Alabama.

Use of the marble as an exterior building material includes:

The Dime Savings Bank of New York in Brooklyn,

the former Connecticut Savings Bank (now Wells Fargo) in New Haven, Connecticut,

the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville, New Jersey,

the main building of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, 

J. Ogden Armour's Mellody Farm in Lake Forest, Illinois,

the Atlantic National Bank Building in Jacksonville, Florida,

the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Temple in Washington D.C., and the Chrysler Mausoleum in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Gleaming cream marble from Sylacauga can be found in other hotels, offices, mausoleums, memorials and homes across the country.

A brief history of the Sylacauga marble quarries was provided by Magic of Marble Festival.

The first recorded discovery of marble in Alabama was in 1820 by Dr. Edward Gantt, a physician who had accompanied General Andrew Jackson through the area in 1814. Even Dr. Gantt did not realize the extent of this calcium carbonate deposit. The deposit is part of the “Murphy Marble Belt” extending 32 1/2 miles wide by 400 feet deep and is the world’s largest commercial deposit of madre cream marble.

In the 1830s, several quarries were opened in Talladega County. Using the old Plank Road, they made shipments throughout Central Alabama. By 1906 New York interests had bought Gantt’s Quarry from its Ocala investors, and this site emerged as the center of marble-working activity. A small town, Gantts Quarry, developed around this property, later called Alabama Marble Company. By the turn of the century, Sylacauga quarries had an established reputation and shipments were being made throughout the state.

One of the world’s greatest sculptors, Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mt. Rushmore, sculpted a masterpiece from Alabama Marble – the bust of Lincoln – which stands today in the rotunda of the nation’s capital. Borglum commented that the fine texture of Alabama marble enabled him to portray the expression of kindness on Lincoln’s face that he had never been able to do with any other stone.

By the 1940s endless uses for calcium products extracted from the marble deposits became obvious. Calcium was needed for agricultural, pharmaceutical, and paint products.

Alabama Marble Company had already moved in this direction, having introduced its first Raymond Mill products for animal feed, insecticides, and joint cement materials in 1933.

Currently there are three marble companies operating in the Sylacauga domain. Imerys is the largest producer of calcium/carbonate products in the world. Omya, Inc. also is an international producer. Both produce calcium/carbonate which is an integral part of the business and industrial uses of this product.

Sylacauga Marble Quarry is the only producer of dimensional marble for artistic use (sculpting) as well as marble for building construction. 

Sylacauga marble producers rest on a seemingly endless supply of such beautiful stone, which provides a unique contribution toward the development of an industry and the advancement of mankind.

Learn more about Sylacauga marble here.

Visitors to “The Marble City” sometimes ask, “When will the marble run out?”  It will still be in the Alabama earth, still being mined, still creating thousands of jobs, still being sculpted, when our great, great, great, great-grandchildren go to see the Sylacauga Magic of Marble Festival.

From the quarries where the marble white as the Paros gleams

Waiting till thy sculptor’s chisel, wake to like thy poet’s dream.

– Julia Tutwiler, “Alabama” state song

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at ZeiglerElderCare@yahoo.com.

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