Three things in Chattanooga worth saving or putting back

Three things in Chattanooga worth saving or putting back

Although the Picnooga project focuses on historic photographs, ephemera, and objects smaller than a bread box (for those who remember bread boxes) there are three landmarks near and dear to our heart that are endangered of disappearing or being forgotten forever.

The W. F. Fischer & Brother Clock at 8th and Market

I wrote about this clock and its history on a few years back and was able to track down the pieces to a firm in Ohio that specializes in antique street clocks. The estimated restoration cost was approximate $70,000. But a high-quality reproduction of its head and other missing pieces would be much less. With downtown Chattanooga poised for a renaissance, a return of the thirteen-foot iron clock, circa. 1912, would symbolize a rebirth of a once commercial dynamo.

The Hardy House on Lookout Mountain

Built in the 1920s for once Mayor of Chattanooga Richard “Dick” Hardy, the Tudor Revival-style cottage and carriage house located just south of the Cravens House sits empty and is mostly neglected. It’s currently owned by the National Park Service. A few years back the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park solicited the public for their opinions about tearing down or restoring the structure. Sadly, there are plans to raze the compound and replace it with parking for the Cravens House when funding becomes available. In 2015, an estimate by park officials to restore the property and bring it up to code was in the neighborhood of $1.3 million.

The home is beautiful and historic but needs immediate attention. It would make a fine historic photo gallery, educational and event space, and mini visitor’s center if the exterior was restored and the interior renovated. Also, it would be an appropriate home base for Picnooga and our digital preservation efforts. Photography was a steady cottage industry on Lookout Mountain from the 1860s through the first quarter of the twentieth century, and images from that period have provided a detailed visual documentation of the past that most cities could only hope for. The artistry of photographers who worked on Lookout Mountain are a large part of the Battlefield and Park’s early history and should be honored. Upcycling the Hardy House for that purpose would be very fitting and would save a historic structure stuck in the limbo of red tape and budget cuts. This nearly lost structure just needs a specific vision to sustain for another 90 years.

The Rivoli Theatre in East Chattanooga

This is another landmark that I’ve written about and drawn attention to in the past. The Rivoli Theatre at 2436 Glass Street in East Chattanooga is the last remaining movie house in Chattanooga. In the late 1940s and 1950s, for a few bottle caps, you could enjoy a first run movie if you didn’t mind sharing your popcorn with the rats.

Its time as a first-run movie theater is probably over, but it could be used as a neighborhood arts venue as its stage and original lobby and raked seating area remain intact, although the property is in very rough shape.  Again, with a specific vision and love the Rivoli could become the center of the community again, minus the rodents.


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