Historical Commission Requires Lewin To Redesign Planned St. Elmo House To Fit In With Neighbors

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Members of the Chattanooga Historical Commission on Thursday, ruling in a case involving one of the board members, said Steve Lewin should go back to the drawing board on a planned house he called "Mid-Century."

A fellow board member said, "I don't want to be the style police and I'm not an architect," but he said the design of the two-story, 2,200-square-foot home at 5010 Tennessee Ave. was too dissimilar from its neighbors.

Carolyn Cubbage said, "I don't see how you can say that house fits into the neighborhood in any way."

Tim McDonald, who owns property on nearby Sunnyside, said, "Frankly, I don't think this fits the neighborhood at all."

Sonny Fryar, a closer neighbor, termed it "alien." 

Mr. Lewin said he was working to save some huge trees on the steep lot and utilizing the building style that is designed "to forge a connection with nature."

Board members said it is not necessary to just strictly stick with the familiar St. Elmo bungalow style on new construction, but the plans can't be too out of character and scope.

JoBeth Kavanaugh said she gets tired each month seeing "poorly imitated Craftsmen" knockoffs come across their desks. But she also said there is a limit on how far to stray from the St. Elmo style.

Neighbors also had a problem with use of a long-idle alley to reach the Lewin property that formerly belonged to Steve Pickett (St. Elmo Baptist Church).

Mr. Fryar said the alley goes within 15 feet of his house and would take away his privacy. Mr. Lewis said that section would not be in play.

Justin White, who is associated with the project, said, "We are trying to build a house in 2017. People will look back a hundred years from now and say it was built then."

Board member Nancy Poston, who has carried out Fort Wood renovations, said it is not unusual for board members to bring forth projects. She said, "We are harder on ourselves than others."

A new house was not built in St. Elmo for decades, but they are suddenly popping up throughout the historic neighborhood at the foot of Lookout Mountain.

Also at the meeting, plans were announced for a new house at 1195 W. 46th St. as well as 5315 and 5321 Virginia Ave.

Some residents said the building boom is taking away a significant amount of St. Elmo's green space.

Mr. Fryar said, "I bought in St. Elmo because I thought I was protected. I don't want the development chaos you have on the North Shore where they build anything they want anywhere they want." 




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