Park Service Still Has No Interest In Preserving Hardy Home By Cravens House

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

National Park Service officials say they still have no interest in preserving the home of former Chattanooga Mayor Richard Hardy that is next to the Cravens House on the side of Lookout Mountain.

Patrick McIntyre, state preservation officer, recently wrote park officials about the house that was long occupied by Robert Williams before being transferred to the park system after his death.

He received a reply from Brad Bennett, Chickamauga Park superintendent.

Here is the letter exchange:

Brad Bennett, Superintendent
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park 3370 LaFayette Road
Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742

RE: NPS / National Park Service, Condition of Williams/Hardy House, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Park, Chattanooga, Hamilton County

Dear Superintendent Bennett,

Our office has recently received information regarding the current condition of the Williams/Hardy House located adjacent to Craven's House within the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Park. The conditions described and depicted in photographs are significantly advancing the deterioration of this National Register- eligible structure through Demolition by Neglect. The conditions identified include exterior building envelope deficiencies that are allowing moisture to enter the building, unmaintained windows, deteriorated paint, unsecure entryways that leave the structure vulnerable to trespassing and vandalism, and the growth of weeds and vines that have overtaken the building.

As a federal agency, the National Park Service is responsible for the preservation of historic properties which they own or control as outlined in Section 110 of the National Preservation Historic  Act of 1966 (NHPA). Specifically, Section 110.a.1.B cites that such properties shall be "managed and maintained in a way that considers the  preservation  of  their  historic,  architectural, and cultural values...." By not addressing the weatherproofing deficiencies  that are leading to  the  deterioration  of this structure (i.e. Demolition by Neglect), your agency is not in compliance with the NHPA, or the signed Programmatic Agreement (Section Ill. C. 15), and has created an environment that is most certainly eroding the integrity of this significant building. While we understand that fiscal issues often limit an agency's ability to address unforeseen circumstances, these issues have persisted for months without being addressed.  We strongly encourage that actions are taken to halt the further decay of this resource.

E. Patrick McIntyre, Jr .
Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer 

----

Mr. E. Patrick McIntyre, Jr.
State Historic Preservation Officer Tennessee Historical Commission State Historic Preservation Office 2941 Lebanon Pike
Nashville, TN 37243-0442

Re: NPS / National Park Service, Condition of Williams/Hardy House, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Chattanooga, Hamilton County

Dear Mr. McIntyre,

Thank you for your letter of July 16, 2018 regarding the condition of the Williams/Hardy House. As a federal agency, we are aware of our responsibility to preserve historic properties as outlined in Section 110 of the National Preservation Historic Act of 1966. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is tasked with preserving 755 documented historic structures with an annual operating budget of $3.4 million. Currently our deferred maintenance backlog on these assets totals $19 million, greatly exceeding our financial capacity to maintain all structures to desired conditions. As a result of this large backlog, we have had to make some very difficult decisions regarding the prioritization of maintenance activities on several assets.

To provide a structure and rationale for such park management decisions, the National Park Services (NPS) uses a program call the Facility Management Software System (FMSS). FMSS helps us prioritize assets from high to low, with the proportion of maintenance funding scaled accordingly. Ranking criteria in FMSS is based on the national significance of the structures, their direct connection to park purpose, and how those structures relate to the interpretation of the park's primary interpretive themes to the public we serve. As such, our park's highest priority nationally significant historic resources fall into two categories: 1) those directly associated with the Civil War period and 2) those associated with the history of battlefield commemoration.

While we recognize that there is some interest in the Williams/Hardy House and its possible eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic  Places  due to  its architectural  style  and  local  history,  it does not contribute to the national significance of the 1863 Civil War Battle for Chattanooga, nor the post-war commemorative landscape. As such, it ranks as a low priority in the park's FMSS system compared to the high-priority surrounding cultural landscape of the Craven's House. It may  be  worth  noting the circumstances surrounding the park's acquisition of the Williams/Hardy House property. It was purchased from a willing seller in 2001 by the Trust for Public Land and then conveyed to NPS not because it was a contributing feature to the park's cultural landscape, but to facilitate the eventual rehabilitation of the battlefield as detailed in subsequent NPS planning documents.

For example, a Cultural Landscape Report for the Cravens House was completed in 2013 which recommended that the Williams/Hardy House aiid Garage be removed from the core battlefield that surrounds the Cravens House. You' II then recall that from 2013 through 2015, the park went through a long-term park management planning process for the Lookout Mountain Battlefield. The preferred alternative of the Lookout Mountain Battlefield General Management Plan Amendment (GMPA) identified the William's House and Garage for removal. During this process, the public had an opportunity to comment on the various alternatives, with few individuals voicing their concern about the removal of these structures. Most comments supported the removal of these non-Civil War era buildings from the battle fie ld.

As such, upon the Finding of No Significant Impact for the Lookout Mountain Battlefield GMPA by our Regional Director in 2015, we recognized that we would continue consultation with your office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to seek ways to mitigate the adverse effects of removing the Williams/Hardy House and Garage and six other non-contributing historic structures. You'll also recall that your office notified the park during the GMPA process that you did not wish to consult further on the removal of these structures until NPS had received funding for demolition. As of this writing, we have yet to receive requested project fundi'ng for this purpose. However, if you or a representative of the Tennessee Historical Commission would like to visit the park to gain a better understanding of the current condition of the Williams/Hardy House and Garage, we would be happy to arrange a tour of these structures in the Lookout Mountain Battlefield at your convenience

When and if the National Park Service is notified that we have received demolition funding, we will certainly reach out to you to carry out our Section 106 compliance obligations in mitigating the adverse effects of this proposed undertaking. In the meantime,  we will  continue to follow NPS FMSS  guidelines for managing the preservation and maintenance of all of the park's historic assets.

Thank you again for your interest in Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. We look forward to consulting with you on this matter and other pending projects. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or the park's Chief of Resource Management, Jim  Szyjkowski,  at (706) 866-9241.

Sincerely,

Jon Bradley Bennett
Superintendent

cc: Jim Szyjkowski, Park 106 Coordinator
Beth Byrd, Regional
I 06 Coordinator

 

 



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