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Seven Tennessee Sites Added to the National Register of Historic Places

 

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced seven Tennessee sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.  It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources.  The Tennessee Historical Commission administers the program in Tennessee.

“These listings highlight some of the diverse places that tell the story of Tennessee’s unique history,” said Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission. “Our office is proud of its role in ensuring recognition of these time-honored places that help give Tennesseans a sense of pride in their communities.”

Sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places include: The Conway Bridge, The Cordell Hull Bridge, The Daylight Building, Engel Stadium, First Presbyterian Church,& Dr. Wiley Wagner Vaught’s Office.

Conway Bridge

Spanning the Nolichucky River between Cocke and Greene counties, the concrete arch bridge was listed in the National Register for its importance in transportation and engineering.  Built by Steel and Lebby Bridge Company of Knoxville during 1924-25, the bridge contains four closed, spandrel-ribbed arches and has a railing of post and rail design.   The Steel and Lebby firm played a large role in the design transition from traditional concrete arch bridges that imitated masonry arch bridges to more innovative uses of concrete.  The East Tennessee region where the bridge is located is called Chucky Knobs – a rural part of the state.  Before the Conway Bridge was built, the only way to cross the river was by ferry and completion of the bridge connected previously isolated communities.  It also was the first concrete bridge built in Cocke County.

Cordell Hull Bridge

Located at the edge of Carthage in Smith County, the bridge was built over the Cumberland River with federal funds during the Great Depression.  Designed by the Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works (currently the Tennessee Department of Transportation) and fabricated by the Vincennes Steel Corporation of Indiana, the bridge is important in the areas of engineering, politics and transportation.  Completed in 1936, it has six riveted-deck trusses and five deck-girder approach spans.  When the bridge was opened, areas north of the river were granted easier access to major traffic routes; and southern residents could better travel into Carthage, the county seat. This unique bridge serves as a reminder of benefits brought to most towns and communities in Tennessee as a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.  While extensive repairs were made to the bridge in 1992-93, it is presently closed to traffic.

Daylight Building

Knoxville real estate developer Benjamin Howard Sprankle had this building constructed during 1926-27.  The two-story brick building located in downtown Knoxville was built with spaces for offices and retail stores.  The main importance of the building begins in 1933 when the newly formed Tennessee Valley Authority used the spaces for offices for its engineering, soil conservation and training divisions.  The Daylight Building is a remaining, unaltered historic building associated with this early phase of TVA’s history.

Engel Stadium

Home of the Southern League’s Chattanooga Lookouts from 1930 until 1965, Engel Stadium represents an important period of baseball history for both the city and Hamilton County.  Designed by architect James G. Gauntt and built by Rogers and Leventhal, both from Chattanooga, the stadium was finished in time for opening day in 1930.  It was considered a state-of-the-art baseball stadium and was named for Lookouts president William Joseph Engel.  Engel was a great promoter and became known as the “Barnum of Baseball.”  One of his more interesting promotions was when female player Virnett “Jackie” Mitchell pitched against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig – striking out both of these famous ball players.  The stadium also hosted semi-professional baseball, including sporadic play by the Lookouts after 1965, high school and Little League baseball, football games, music concerts and speaking events.

First Presbyterian Church

The nationally known New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White designed the 1910 sanctuary of the Neo-classical First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga.  Graced with six large Ionic columns and a decorative pediment on the façade, a highly embellished interior octagonal sanctuary, and classical details throughout the building – the church is an architectural landmark in the city.  Two stained-glass windows by New York designer Edwin Blashfield were added to the sanctuary in the early 20th century.  Around 1925, the local architectural firm of Bearden and Foreman designed an architecturally compatible addition of Sunday school classrooms and an auditorium.  Another addition was constructed at the back of the church in 1964, while the final addition came with a 1981 connector to an adjacent building.  The interior has had a few changes but they are in character with the historic style of the church.

Clarence T. Jones Observatory

Constructed in 1936 with Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works funds, the Chattanooga observatory was named after Clarence T. Jones – a local architect and amateur astronomer, who designed the building.  Built for the Chattanooga school system, many companies and individuals helped construct the observatory and telescope. Jones, along with the Barnard Astronomical Society, promoted the construction and educational uses of the building. When completed, it was thought to be the first, large public observatory in the South.  In 1944, the building was turned over to the University of Chattanooga (now University of Tennessee at Chattanooga), which then added astronomy to its curriculum.  Shortly before his death, Clarence Jones and his son Bruce began work on a planetarium that would be added to the building in 1958. Since its opening, the observatory has been used by the public, the university and the school system in Chattanooga to promote astronomy.

Dr. Wiley Wagner Vaught Office

The one-story, two-room building located three miles from the Johnson County seat of Mountain City, was used by Vaught from 1905 until 1915, when he moved to Johnson City.  Vaught provided basic medical services to this rural part of Tennessee and also to rural Virginia and North Carolina.  One of the first licensed physicians in Johnson County, his practice spans a period of time when modern medicine and the regulation of health practices in Tennessee were in their infancy.  It was not only medicine that was changing at the time.  Vaught owned the second car in the county and had a gas pump installed next to his office.  Although cars had arrived in the county, road improvements had not and the doctor used his horse to make his patient visits.  The former office is owned by Vaught’s descendants.

Links to each of the completed nomination forms can be found in the site descriptions listed above. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places or the Tennessee Historical Commission, please visit the Web site at www.tn.gov/environment/hist.


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