The Wells Fargo building on the corner of 10th Street and Quintard Avenue is undergoing demolition and the white marble panels that adorned the exterior for more than 40 years are up for sale, thanks to a savvy local salesman.
Keith Howland, a self-proclaimed salesman of anything, saw an opportunity when demolition on the building began at the beginning of summer.
“After driving by every day and banking there every day, and seeing in the paper that it was gonna be demolished ... I saw a small-town opportunity,” Howland said recently while walking past the stacks of marble panels laid out in the bank’s back parking lot. “It’s a good opportunity for local people to use this.”
Howland contacted Clear Site Industrial, the company hired to demolish the building, and convinced officials to let him sell the marble, instead of just crumbling it up and throwing it away, which was the original plan, Howland said.
“It’s a challenge because it’s not as profitable for them because they have to be careful with it,” Howland said.
Lenny Penatello, the foreman of the demolition crew, agrees. Each panel is caulked into an aluminum frame, which was attached to the side of the six-story building.
“It takes quite a while to get it down,” Penatello said. “About 30 minutes per panel.”
Penatello estimates that about 30 percent of all the marble has been removed from the building, with more coming down every day.
The most common panel sizes are approximately 4 feet by 4 feet, 1 inch thick, weigh about 200 pounds and cost about $100 apiece, at $6 per square foot. There are larger panels more suitable for countertops, but they need to be professionally cut and sized, Howland said. But he’ll only charge for the “useable area.” Howland gets a cut of the profits from selling the panels, which are priced at $3-$8 per square foot, depending on condition.
“If you were to buy it new, it would be $40 per square foot,” Howland said.
According to a special section printed by The Anniston Star in April 1973, the panels are white golden-vein marble quarried in Tate, Ga. The building, which first housed Anniston’s First National Bank, has changed hands several times over the years, most recently when Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo in 2008.
The marble has a matte finish that can be polished, Howland said. It’s suitable for tabletops, countertops, shower walls, patios and more.
Stan Simon used to install granite and marble countertops in Michigan before moving to Jacksonville with his family. Simon first contacted Howland about buying a couple pieces to make end tables, but is now interested in buying some, cutting it and preparing it for resale as countertops.
“It’s fragile,” Simon said of marble in general. “It’s the biggest part of making countertops — there’s so many flakes it’ll fracture easier than granite. But it’s beautiful stone.”
Howland says he has been contacted by several contractors who are interested in making a bulk purchase — including another bank in Savannah, Ga. But Howland is only selling to the public for now, because he doesn’t want to offer bulk purchases until all the marble is down and he knows how much he actually has to work with.
Howland estimates that 3,000-4,000 square feet of marble has been removed from the building, “and half that’s broken.” He said he’s been getting five to 10 phone calls per day since he put “White marble for sale” signs up around the demo site.
Howland recommends that before calling or visiting the site, interested parties get measurements first and make drawings of what they want to use the stone for. Then Howland can more easily help find a suitable piece for the project.
“And when you come to pick up your piece, bring someone stronger and younger than me,” Howland said with a laugh. “I’ll help, but these are big pieces.”
Features editor Deirdre Long: 256-235-3555. On Twitter @star_features