John Shearer: More Reminders Of Old Hixson Found

Sunday, July 1, 2018

After I wrote a story with some photographs a few weeks back about the remaining landmarks and still-rural landscapes in Hixson, I realized I might not have covered all such sites.

So I got back in my car Saturday morning and tracked down a few more places I was aware of and a few I had not really noticed before.

I took a photo of a handsome bungalow-style home on Hamill Road by Crescent Club Drive I had mentioned in the previous story, and found an old store on that street by Adams Road. And later I saw the classic Fairview United Methodist on the far end of the same road on Big Ridge.

Unlike many of the places on the ridge, other than the gorgeous wooded and undeveloped land on the side, the church still looks more rural than suburban.

I also looked up close at the vintage chapel and former sanctuary of Hixson United Methodist, which a cornerstone says dates to 1930. It sits in the middle of more modern buildings off Old Hixson Pike.

And Middle Valley Road had perhaps the biggest treat of all. I had forgotten due to my infrequent – and zooming -- trips of recent years down that road, but it features several neat old places near Hixson High School.

That includes an old barn, a couple of old houses, and by far the prettiest sight I saw on Saturday – an old log cabin-style home against the backdrop of dozens of beautiful acres of pastureland adjoining the school.

I am not sure – and have not had time to check – who owns the land or what the plans are for it.

But if the land is savable, an idealistic lover of beautiful and fragile pastoral landscapes would definitely feel Chattanooga needs to protect it. There have been several now-developed places along that street as well as Cassandra Smith Road and Hixson Pike that had simply gorgeous pastureland amidst the backdrop of a distant Signal Mountain, and this may be one of the last ones.

 I was glad I was able to get a picture of it, but it was not easy. It and several other places along both busy Middle Valley and Hamill roads require getting out and carefully walking along a mostly sidewalk-less street to photograph them.

One handsome old red barn – or at least old-style barn -- along the far end of Hamill Road on Big Ridge near the Fairview church had such a steep drop off on the side of the road on a curve that I simply had to slow down, turn on my hazard lights and take a quick picture while seated. And I had to do all that while, of course, hoping no one would zoom up from behind.

But it was all worth it to capture with my not-too-fancy camera such aesthetically pleasing scenes.

Not far from Middle Valley Road on Kamin Road – near the old quarry and the Hixson Utility District-connected giant water tank – I found a Stonehenge-like and mysterious stone or block marker in a field. It is apparently some remaining part of an old house or building.

Unfortunately for those who like old landmarks in Hixson and elsewhere that recall a simpler time, two or three of them I featured in the past story just three weeks ago are apparently about to disappear.

Within a week after I took a picture of the old barn and store building across from the Publix on Hixson Pike, a sign went up saying that the Clint Wolford development firm is getting ready to convert the tract.

The sign says 3.5 acres (actually it says ‘acers’) of the partly wooded land are available. The drawings on the sign show a sit-down restaurant on the left from the sidewalk, a fast casual restaurant with a drive-through in the middle, and 10,000 square feet of retail space on the right plus a possible coffee shop with a drive through.

The property actually had a for sale sign in front of it several months ago, I learned after writing the first story.

I remembered growing up in nearby Valleybrook and hearing that the building there was once an old store operated by “Fireball” Rogers, and in recent years had been a music store with the Fireball name.

Out of curiosity, I googled Fireball Rogers and found that George Edward “Fireball” Rogers of Hixson had died in November 2013 at the age of 81. A U.S. Army veteran, he was active in the Shriners and Masons and loved baseball and NASCAR racing.

His obituary did not say how he received his nickname, nor did it offer any history regarding the building.

Like the building on Hamill Road, this one also has bricks or blocks that step up to a point in the center of the front face. That must have been a standard look on rural or small-town commercial buildings in the likely pre-World War II era.

His old store is a part of vanishing Hixson, but I am glad I was able to get a picture of it for posterity.

And no telling how many more old Hixson landmarks and landscapes are still being displayed before possibly being developed or simply disappearing for some other reason.

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Note: This is one of a series of stories looking at, analyzing and critiquing Chattanooga’s architectural, urban and pastoral landscape. To see the previous story in the series, click here.




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