Railroad Museum Working To Try To Save Historic Tower Building Set To Be Demolished At The Chattanooga Choo Choo

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is working to try to save an historic railroad tower set to be torn down at the Chattanooga Choo Chool.

 

TVRM officials said, "TVRM is working diligently with LIV Development to preserve Terminal Tower by relocating it to TVRM. Further announcements regarding this important railroad preservation project will be made soon."

 

Preservationists were asking that the tower at the rear of the Chattanooga Choo Choo not be demolished.

 

Andrew Smith, a local architect, said he was advised that it will be knocked down soon.

 

The Choo Choo recently sold property at the rear of the complex for a four-story upscale apartment building.

Bluebird Row will have 283 units. It is by LIV Development of Birmingham, Ala.

 

Choo Choo owner Jon Kinsey told the Times Free Press he felt the tower was "of minimal interest" historically.

 

Mr. Smith said, "Having participated in decades of urban success sustained by our historic fabric, I am incredulous that not a finger has been lifted to preserve the little Terminal Building at the Choo Choo.  

 

"And I am saddened and disappointed that the developers of the project can be so cavalier about destroying the established architectural history of the citizens of Chattanooga.

"As much a part of the history of the railway station as the grand dome, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It is scheduled for demolition next week.
 
"Preservation apathy is not what we envisioned 35 years ago, and laments for the loss of our history are not nearly enough to save it."

 

David Steinberg, an early Choo Choo employee who operated the trolley at the attraction, wrote a letter to Choo Choo officials.

 

He said:

 

Dear Mr. Brambrey,

 

I hope this letter finds you in good health and enjoying a wonderful summer.

 

Mr.  Bambrey, I have just learned that the Terminal Station Tower building at the end of the Choo Choo property is scheduled for demolition this coming week.

 

I am pleading with you to please not allow that to happen. This building is an integral part of the very being of Terminal Station. This was the place where trains were shifted from track to track in the station itself and where the trains were dispatched to the most remote parts of the country. The beautiful Bogie brick, the way it has been laid Flemish bond, the fact that this brick was part and parcel of the Chattanooga Terminal Station and was in essence the very heart of the station, makes it of as much importance to Terminal Station as the Grand Dome area and the concourse area itself in the main building. The very fact that such an historic building can never again be duplicated, all plead for you to please spare it. If nothing else, please allow it to be spared the amount of time that interested parties might be able to muster up the funds to have it transported to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum or some similar museum that I am sure would be happy to have it in their collection.

 

Additionally, once this news gets out to the general public, you will begin to receive reams of complaints and very bad publicity that the Choo Choo does not need, nor does it deserve to have. When Southern Railway made the mistake of tearing down first the Birmingham, Alabama and then the Atlanta, Georgia Terminal Stations, they received so much negative publicity and even a number of shippers informed the railroad they were going to no longer use the railroad for expediting of their products but would change to trucks, openly remarked that they had made a terrible blunder. That is the reason that the railroad was so interested when B. Allen Casey offered to save Chattanooga’s Terminal Station and even became partners in the venture.

 

Mr. Bambrey, I think you know of my sincere interest in seeing the Choo Choo continue to be a vital tourist attraction for the city and that it continue to be successful in this venture that has spared the station these many years.

 

Please I beg of you, not allow even one brick of  Chattanooga’s beautiful Terminal Station and its railroad history to fall into oblivion.

 

I wish you and the Choo Choo continued success in what you are doing in maintaining Terminal Station, continuing to see that it remain a functioning and integral part of beautiful and historic Chattanooga.

 

My best personal wishes to you personally and to anyone who might still remember me at the Choo Choo.

 

Sincerely,

 

David H. Steinberg

One of the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s First Hired Employees


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