Quarry owners help focus on legacy
Dec 18, 2013 | 2413 views |  0 comments | 84 84 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The history of marble in Sylacauga pre-dates the city itself, with one of Andrew Jackson’s soldiers, Edward Gantt, making note of the white stone when he passed through the area in 1814. Along with others, he bought land there twenty years later to mine the stone that is among the whitest marble in the world. Several companies have operated quarries in the area, tapping into the 32-mile long marble deposit.

The newest quarry operators in the area have taken an active role in helping with local celebrations and recognition of the industry’s importance to the Marble City, and the B.B. Comer Memorial Library Foundation has recognized the contributions of the Alabama Marble Company with a permanent plaque on its “Partners in Lifelong Learning” wall.

Founded in 1998, the company uses the same name as one of the earlier quarry companies that mined marble in the area, and produces products that recall an era when architectural styles called for more use of marble in buildings and monuments, as well as its use in sculpture.

Company president Stephen Musolino and general manager Anthony Musolino have brought dimensional marble from Sylacauga back into the marketplace, including blocks, slabs, tiles, window sills, thresholds and special pieces. The company quarries the marble cuts it to size and polishes finished products for sale internationally and at home, much of it in Home Depot stores.

They have also played important roles in promoting the artistic use of marble in cooperation with Sylacauga Marble Festival organizers, and worked with local and international sculptors who come to the city to participate in those events.

They have also assisted with the provision of marble for an interactive sculpture to promote reading. The work will depict a father reading to his two children, with an empty seat inviting viewers to become a part of the scene. That will join other public works of art seen in the city that recall the legacy of the industry in the city.

The bust of Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. Capitol rotunda is made from Sylacauga marble, and it’s also found in the ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial, in the Washington Monument and the Supreme Court building. Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti came to Alabama on a commission to work on the Vulcan statue in Birmingham, and was so impressed with Sylacauga’s marble, he established a studio nearby and brought in investors. Moretti-Harrah Company grew from those efforts, becoming one the larger quarry operations in the early 20th century, about the same time as the first Alabama Marble Company.

Today, most of Sylacauga’s marble is ground into small pieces for a wide variety of uses, including paints, plastics, roofing materials, packaging, paper coating, agricultural uses and more, and that’s a vital part of the city’s industrial scene. The use of marble in architectural and artistic forms complements its industrial uses in ways that are more recognizable.

The contributions of the Mussolinos and their company are helping to promote Sylacauga and bring more attention to its marble, and their recognition by the library foundation is well noted.