In a recent Chattanooga Times Free Press article about an attempt to save the Williams/Hardy House on land adjacent to the Cravens House, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Superintendent Brad Bennett is quoted, “It's a 20th-century structure that was dropped onto the battlefield," Bennett said. "We want to restore the landscape around the Cravens house - a house that was actually there for the battle."
Superintendent Bennett's remark about the Cravens House’s history is incorrect. Although the unattached dairy cellar is original to the original Cravens’ homestead, the current main house was built shortly after the Civil War. The later Cravens House bears little resemblance to the original simple one-story structure.
According to the Park’s literature, the home was dismantled by Union troops for firewood and souvenirs. And there is a photograph of a dismantled post Civil War-era home, showing the unrestored cellar on a plaque at the Cravens House site.
Superintendent Bennett is either unaware or misinformed about of the home’s history, or he’s decided to publicly revise history to justify the Park’s reasoning for removing a structure that was built after the 1863 Battle of Chattanooga.
Ironically, this isn’t the first time a home in the area was deemed not historic enough, or not fitting in with the Park’s mission. Back in the early 1950s, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park let the historic Cravens House deteriorate to the point that it was scheduled for demolition by the Department of the Interior. It took a public challenge from local preservationists to save the house. Money was publically raised by the Chattanooga Chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities led by Elizabeth Patten and Penelope Johnson Allen. The restoration took several years, and the home was reopened to visitors in 1957.
The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park plans to demolish the historic Williams/Hardy House to construct a parking lot of the historic Cravens House. There is no timeline for its destruction. Find out more about its history and the effort to save it at https://www.facebook.com/savinglittleholme