Dean Arnold Writes About Wealthy Chattanooga Families

Friday, April 21, 2006
Signing books
Signing books
- photo by Suzanne Walker

“After living here for 10 or 15 years I realized that Chattanooga was not a normal city” but has “perhaps the largest amount of wealth per capita,” said Author Dean Arnold.

Mr. Arnold told guests gathered at his book signing Thursday evening in Artist Gordon Wetmore’s studio that his curiosity about the wealthy families of Lookout Mountain inspired him to write his newest book Old Money New South: The Spirit of Chattanooga.

Mr. Arnold said places such as Nashville may have around 100 extremely wealthy families, but Chattanooga has about eight to 10 families that are “a hundred times wealthier.” Through research Mr. Arnold said he discovered the “keystone fortune” is the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

His audience listened to his brief account of the advent of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company and how this enterprise led to an accumulation of wealth primarily among Lookout Mountain families (i.e. the Lupton family), which is thoroughly explained in his new book.

Lookout Mountain stands as an icon for “the old money,” he said, while the Tennessee Aquarium is an icon for the “new South.”

In spite of Chattanooga’s extreme wealth, in the 1960’s Walter Cronkite named Chattanooga the most polluted city. Leaders of the city, led by the Lupton family, rallied together and worked to improve the city. Later developments such as the Aquarium were created.

Mr. Arnold said today the Hunter Art Museum represents three phases of Chattanooga’s last hundred years. The original Hunter mansion, with its pillars, represents the aristocratic old money. The next addition to the museum “captures an era of little growth.” Lastly, the most recent addition is “out there. We’re not really sure what to do with it and that is the phase we’re in now.” Mr. Arnold said he believes this phase needs to be “rooted in the same ideals of the old money.”

The wealthy families of Chattanooga are different because they are extremely “philanthropic and charitable,” he said.

Mr. Arnold said in his book he attributes the charitable spirit of Chattanooga’s wealthiest to the Presbyterian conservative tradition. “They believe that you should give money to God. That’s why Chattanooga leads the country in foundation money and giving. They leave Lookout Mountain, they work and they believe it’s their civic duty to make a difference.”

Artist Wetmore said he finds the book “utterly fascinating.” He said he wishes he could have read the book in the 1960’s when he moved from Memphis to Chattanooga. “The book unravels many mysteries about Chattanooga.”

Mr. Wetmore said, “This book is good for Chattanooga but it’s not a puff piece. Dean is very frank.”

Mr. Arnold also wrote America’s Trail of Tears, which looks at the prehistory of Chattanooga. He said researching the Cherokee Indians sparked his interest in local history.

Old Money New South is not in stores yet, he said, but copies can be ordered from his website www.oldmoneynewsouth.com or bought from him personally.

Speaking to group
Speaking to group
- Photo2 by Suzanne Walker

The Road Home: The 152nd Anniversary Of The Battle Of Chickamauga

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park invites the public to attend a series of special programs commemorating the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga from Friday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 20. In the late summer of 1865 the United States was reunited after four years of war, but the struggle was far from over. Americans, North and South, struggled ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Friends 6th Annual "Dunked" Fundraiser On Sept. 19 To Benefit Local Nonprofits

Chattanooga Friends is presenting Dunked for its sixth consecutive year to benefit four local nonprofits. The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 18 at Miller Plaza from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Dunked involves recruiting well-known Chattanoogans to take the plunge for a good cause.  This year, Dunked benefits Siskin Children’s Institute, Northside Neighborhood House, Boys & ... (click for more)

City, County To Spend Up To $300,000 To Improve Moccasin Bend Police Firing Range

The city and county will spend up to $300,000 to upgrade the police firing range at Moccasin Bend. The city and county earlier had made plans for an indoor firing range on E. 11th Street that would have cost over $3 million, but the plug was later pulled on that idea. Officials said a new portable building will be transported to the Moccasin Bend site. The project also ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Takes New Cost-Cutting Measures

Hutcheson Medical Center has announced new cost-cutting measures as it tries to stop ongoing losses. A trustee has asked that the Fort Oglethorpe hospital's bankruptcy process be dissolved, saying it has accumulated over $5 million in debt during the 10 months it has been in bankruptcy. The board of directors for Hutcheson Medical Center voted Wednesday evening to suspend ... (click for more)

Vote To Save Graduate Medical Education Funding

As a resident physician at UT College of Medicine Chattanooga, I know first-hand the impact Medicare financing for Graduate Medical Education has on physician education and access to care for patients in our community and communities all over the country.  GME funding provides medical school graduates the opportunity to complete the required years of clinical residency training ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Black Lives Matter’ To Me

Between the time a 14-year-old boy was shot four times late Sunday afternoon on 7 th Street and a 20-year-old reputed gang member was killed Tuesday night on Willow Street, there appeared in my morning reading an article on “Black Lives Matter.” I read it because I mourn over what the black community continues to struggle with in both our city and our country. It is an article, ... (click for more)