By Justin Metcalf
Hey, Chattanooga — intern Justin here. 👋 One of my favorite pastimes is going for a walk around Chattanooga to admire the architecture and personality of its different neighborhoods. I’m a sucker for the charm of an older home or building, and I find myself imagining the people who inhabited those spaces throughout our city’s history.
After doing some research, I discovered the Chattanooga Historic Zoning Committee recognizes four districts — St. Elmo, Fort Wood, Ferger Place, and Battery Place — for their historical significance and unique architectural styles.
Keep reading to learn about all four of them. 👇
If you have driven over Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, you have likely seen the beautiful homes lining the bluff over the Tennessee River. This collection of 20 residential buildings near Bluff View Art District nestles itself off the main road, Battery Place, with a variety of historical and modern architectural styles.
○ The district was named after its historic importance as the site of artillery placements during the Civil War.
○ Before the construction of Veteran’s Memorial Bridge in 1984, which separated the area, Battery Place was part of the Bluff View district.
○ The oldest homes include a brick Italianate house and a Queen Anne cottage with characteristic wrap-around porches from the late nineteenth century.
This district, located along Eveningside Drive and Morningside Drive off Main Street, reflects changing attitudes and styles of the industrial revolution. The architecture of these homes include post-Victorian styles from the 1910s-1930s.
○ The area was developed in 1910 by the Ferger Brothers Real Estate firm as a “Private Restricted Park.”
○ As a result of the industrial revolution and expanding economy, there was a growing middle class looking for low cost housing in growing suburban areas.
○ The architecture represents the shift from the grand, flashy designs of the Victorian era to a more hand-crafted, natural style.
○ There was a focus on letting the outdoors in with expansive front porches, open floor plans, and large sunrooms.
○ The architectural styles include Craftsman/Bungalow, Four Square, Prairie, Tudor Revival, and Colonial Revival.
Just east of Chattanooga’s original 1838 boundaries (currently adjacent to UTC’s campus), union soldiers initially constructed the Fort Wood district in 1863 as a stronghold during the Civil War. It was first named after Colonel William R. Creighton — killed in Ringgold, Georgia in 1863 — but the fort was renamed in honor of General Thomas Wood in 1864. It’s most recognizable streets include Oak, Vine, and Fort Wood for their large houses and overhanging trees.
○ Residential development occurred in the late 19th Century.
○ The character of these homes include Victorian and Neoclassical residences, Colonial Revival mansions, and Queen Anne cottages.
○ Kosmos Women’s Club was established here in 1892 as a way for women to engage in civic affairs before the suffrage movement.
○ T.C. Thompson, Mayor of Chattanooga from 1909-1915 and founder of T.C Thompson Children’s Hospital, lived in various homes here during the early 1900s
○ George Fort Milton, publisher and part owner of the Chattanooga News lived in this neighborhood.
Located at the foot of Lookout Mountain, the residential area was developed in the 1880s. It was mostly home to well-off residents who considered it to be country living at the time.
The architecture of the homes in these areas include Queen Anne, Gabled Ell, Colonial Revival, Craftsman/Bungalow, and Tudor Revival.
○ The Lookout Mountain Railway Co. provided transportation from St. Elmo to the top of the mountain with regular service on its incline in 1888.
○ Electric streetcar lines were built in the early 1890s for transportation to downtown.
○ Along with residential areas, beautiful churches were constructed, such as Thankful Memorial Episcopal Church — named after Thankful Whiteside Johnson, wife of St. Elmo developer Abraham Johnson — and Methodist Episcopal Church.
○ In 1906, St. Elmo School, now an apartment complex, was constructed and is where our city’s first Parent-Teacher Association was formed.
If you want to keep digging, you can find more information on the various architectural styles, photos of beautiful houses and buildings + guidelines for renovating and restoring homes in the four districts here.