Visitors to Tate Day this Saturday will have a chance to visit the quarries of the Polycor on special tour shuttles.
By Mike Davis
Two tours during Tate Day, Saturday, November 7, offer different glimpses of Tate's marble history.
Tours of Polycor Georgia Marble Company quarry explain the stone, machines, process, hardware, and manpower it takes to grapple a 100-ton chunk of stone from the bottom of a pit and send it to market.
Twenty-eight of those marble chunks became Lincoln's 19-foot statue in the Lincoln Memorial. Twenty-four Georgia White Cherokee marble columns, each one quarried and lathed from a single chunk of marble, stand in the east front exterior of the U. S. Capitol building. And tons of Georgia Mezzotint marble veneer cover Tate Elementary School.
Quarry tour shuttles leave the parking lot of the old Burger Fruit Stand across the street from the Tate Fire Department every 30 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Cost is $5.00. Tours are free for children under five.
Tours of Tate Elementary School not only show how marble is used, they also reveal how the history of a company and the lives of its employees are woven into the fabric of a community.
Stephen C. Tate built the first Tate schoolhouse in about 1866. The one-room building also accommodated monthly Methodist Church services. Another school was built in 1906-07. The Tates later built a larger school on the site of the present school. That wooden structure burned in December 1926.
Georgia Marble Company President Col. Sam Tate arranged for classrooms at the Tate Methodist Church while the company built a new school. It only took a year to build what we know as the world's only marble school.
When Tate High School opened for grades 1-11 in 1928, it was one of the best-equipped schools in the country and became the only accredited high school in North Georgia. Classrooms, labs, and a library shared space with a lodge hall, projection room for showing movies to the community, and 750-seat auditorium used for school and community programs.
You can visit Tate Elementary School between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tours are free.
Other Tate Day Activities
The Tate Day parade starts at 10 a.m. from the parking lot of Cool Springs Baptist Church. Arts and crafts vendors will fill the relocated Tate Depot. Photo contest entries will hang in the depot. Railroad motorcars load in front of the depot for a ride south to Pickens Street and back. Spinning, corn grinding, and wood turning artisans will be on hand near the depot. Down the street Tate Medical Associates hosts an open house.
BBQ lunch, Tate High School mini-reunions, cake bake off, and memorials to Marble Valley Friends members who have passed away this year all take place in the Old Tate Gym. Tate United Methodist Church sponsors a yard sale, children's activities, and a hot dog lunch. Raffle tickets for a Tate Depot birdhouse and a print of the old Tate Depot will be available at the depot and the gym.
Marble Valley Friends, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) historical restoration organization located in Tate.