You can find beautiful buildings and homes throughout East Tennessee. Many will be here decades from now because they are built to last. One family is helping build that lasting legacy one stone at a time.
Father, mother and sons work together to build something beautiful.
"Our family has been doing this for hundreds of years, every generation," says Tom Speed.
It was in Tom's blood from the time he was a young boy living in Louisville. "We were around job sites and stuff from the time we were 7 or 8 years old," says Tom. "It was just something you did. All my dad's brothers were masons," says Tom.
Tom went into the Air Force and when he got out came home to East Tennessee. "My parents were here when I got out of the military, of course, you come home to your parents," says Tom.
And he started laying stone. "When I was training to be a mason you had to be a real mason. You had to be accomplished in all areas in tile and brick and block and concrete and stone and everything associated with it," says Tom.
That's when he met his match, Judy. "I came to the basketball game and I saw this girl who was kinda tall, and boy, she looked good," says Tom.
He didn't meet her that night, but tracked her down at the restaurant where she worked. "I went and had a cup of coffee and a piece of coconut pie and she fortunately waited on me," says Tom. "I said, 'What would you say if I asked you out?' And she said, 'Well, I'd have to ask my mommy.' And I thought, how old is this girl?"
She was perfect for him because she also loves masonry. "My wife and I get along really well. She has her own talent. She has amazing talents that compliment mine and I have talents that compliment hers," says Tom.
"He's encouraged me when he found out that I could do this cause he's left handed and I'm right handed so working on a wall together is complimentary to each other," says Judy Speed.
And his sons are masons too. "They wanted to go to work with us when they were little and they wanted to climb on the wall and say they were masons and I said you can't do that so we'd set up block and let them practice spreading mud," says Judy.
"My youngest son is into a lot of design. He's an artist also," says Tom. "My oldest son draws and paints also and lays the most amazing stone you've ever seen. They'll carry it up to a higher level than I was able to and that's the way it's supposed to be."
And the Speed Family has left quite a mark on East Tennessee.
"We did the Spivey house in Morristown. We did Seymour Middle School, LaFallotte Middle School, Jacksboro Middle School, Fall Creek Falls Inn and Convention Center, Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge," says Tom.
They've also worked on Market Square. "We've recently worked, they used to call it the St. Oliver Hotel, it's the Oliver Hotel on Market Square," say Tom.
It's this kind of work that makes Tom Speed proud.
"It's exciting to me like when I go to Louisville, Kentucky, I can see work my grandfather did, cathedrals he built and stone work that my dad did on the university and work that my great- grandfather did, the paving of the streets," says Tom.
And Tom and Judy want their kids and grandkids to be able to do the same.
"When you are gone, your children can go back and look at things that you've done and they can put their hands on it," says Judy.
The Speed Family, laying stone after stone, building beautiful architecture and a strong family bond.
"My favorite projects probably are the things that I get to do here that my wife appreciates. Those are my favorite projects," says Tom.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.