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December 12, 2018

Stone for the People: Majestic Stone and Chattanooga’s New Miller Park

For years to come, Chattanoogans will be able to enjoy the beauty and functionality of Tennessee Stone thanks to the partnership between Majestic Stone and the city’s park planners.

Standing in the newly renovated Miller Park on a sunny day, it’s hard to imagine Chattanooga as anything but the best town in America.

But things used to be much, much different. In the 1960s, heavy industries led Chattanooga to become the most polluted city in America. Development interests moved away from the city center and into the suburbs. Downtown Chattanooga was left increasingly empty and mostly ignored.

Miller Park, the heart of Chattanooga’s downtown

The seeds of Chattanooga’s rebirth were planted in these difficult times. No small share of the credit goes to Burkett Miller, an esteemed local lawyer and philanthropist whose Tonya Foundation spearheaded the development of public spaces that allowed locals and visitors to enjoy the city.

One of the Tonya Foundation’s greatest gifts was Miller Park, a shared space positioned right in the beating heart of downtown Chattanooga.

Patrick Wells, CEO of Majestic Stone, has watched Chattanooga grow and change. When he heard of the city’s plans to rebuild Miller Park with architecture that relied heavily on local stone, Wells knew he wanted to be part of the project.

“Miller Park is symbolic of the revitalization that continues to happen downtown. It’s the heart of Chattanooga,” said Wells. “Truly iconic projects like this one don’t come along very often. I knew Majestic could help fulfill the amazing vision the city had for this space.”

A fresh (and natural) take on an aging civic hub

The architectural design of Miller Park echoes the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains. The stone performance stage and pathways lead out to massive stone prisms that seem to lift from beneath the ground.

Wells instantly understood and connected to the architecture.

“Stone is such a big part of Chattanooga’s geography. It’s all around us in the mountains and under our feet. The goal for Miller Park was for the stone to just fit, like it was always supposed to be there.”

Wells knew it was going to take a lot of work to deliver on what the plans made look so simple. While grey sandstone is common material for projects in the area, the architect specified sizes that posed challenging from a quarry standpoint.

“The city trusted us to buy into their vision. They knew we weren’t going to suggest a lot of changes to accommodate easier rock and material,” said Wells. “Majestic takes pride in doing the extra work to bring a project to life the way the architects designed it.”

In addition to sourcing such rare local stone, the fabrication requirements of the Miller Park project presented unique opportunities as well. For instance, cutting grooves into the stone to seamlessly fit lights requires specialized tooling and expertise. “In some ways, the stone is just stone. It’s what comes out of the earth. It’s the service, the delivery, the fabrication, all of those things are essential to a successful project.”

For families, for gathering with friends — Tennessee Stone for us all

The newly reimagined Miller Park opened in September 2018. By every account, the project has been a success. So how does Wells feel about the work Majestic Stone contributed?

“I have a 5-year old and an 8-month old,” Wells said. “We came downtown to eat recently and then walked over to Miller Park. Just to see people running on the grass, and to watch kids climbing on our stone, I just took a moment to feel such a sense of pride. Not just pride in the work we did, but pride as a family that lives in a city like Chattanooga.”

Best town ever, indeed.

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