Demolition Project On Walnut Street Turns Up Documents From City's Earliest Days

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - by John Wilson
Original Title Guaranty building on Walnut Street is at the left. This is where historic papers were found.
Original Title Guaranty building on Walnut Street is at the left. This is where historic papers were found.
- photo by Will Stokes

A demolition project on Walnut Street has unexpectedly turned up documents from Chattanooga's earliest days.

Rob Bentley, a young man who has developed a love for Chattanooga's history, said he got a call from his friend Robert Parks about the discovery.

His company, T. U. Parks, is doing the demolition and build-out of the former Elks Building at Walnut and Seventh and the small adjacent former Title Guaranty and Trust building.

Mr. Bentley, who works at the venerable Chattanooga firm of T.T. Wilson and Company, said, "When they were demoing the old vault the workers found the old documents. Robert went to look at them and a check made out to T.T. Wilson was on top of the pile so he called me to let me know what he had found.

"I asked him if they would stop the demo of the vaults so i could come take a  look at the papers. By the time I got to the job site some of the documents had already been thrown into the dumpster and destroyed.

"I loaded up all the documents I could save out of the dumpster and the ones not yet thrown away into my truck. I went home and organized them the best I could."

The cache included many other checks to pioneer Chattanooga businesses.

Some of the documents date to before the Civil War.

The retrieved items included a book of old documents related to the Samuel Williams family, who were among the earliest Chattanooga settlers. Their home place was near the present Baylor School. 

Mr. Bentley later met with Sam Hall, who has been saving thousands of old Chattanooga photos and documents through his Deepzoom Chattanooga website.

Mr. Hall was excited about the find and has begun scanning the documents. He plans to make all available for public view, including the interesting Williams papers.

Some of the documents bear the signature of H.C. Beck, one of the founders of Title Guaranty and Trust. The title company later built a much-larger headquarters next door. Both are directly across from the County Courthouse.

Through the years, the upstairs portion of the initial Title Guaranty building was rented to attorneys, including Lewis Coleman, a protoge of Coca Cola bottling magnate Jack Lupton. It is believed that the papers that were located were from one of the attorneys renting the upstairs office or from the Title Guaranty operation itself.

Later the small building was merged with the Elks Building next door. The county named the pair of buildings the Mayfield Annex. The county in recent years vacated the buildings and they are being renovated by Lamp Post Properties, which has been restoring several downtown historic buildings for new uses.

Sam Hall said he is always on the lookout for such historic objects that may still be tucked away in attics or basements.

He said, "Please don't throw them away as they have a lot of meaning to me and other Chattanooga history lovers. If you do come upon old Chattanooga pictures or documents and have a thought of tossing them, instead contact me at samhall@chattanoogatn.biz or John Wilson at news@chattanoogan.com or 266-2325."

Some of the documents are already available for viewing at http://deepzoomchattanooga.com/bpoe

Becks founded Title Guaranty
Becks founded Title Guaranty

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

Latest Bradley County Arrest Report

Walker County Arrest Report For Nov. 11-17


We send out headlines each week day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there ... (click for more)

Click here for the latest Bradley County arrest report. (click for more)

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Nov. 11-17: HOLBERT DANNY NICHOLAS WM 29 *** OFFICER GALYON FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE – FELONY (HOLD IN HAMILTON TN) BRADLEY HERMAN DAMION WM 36 ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each week day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com. In addition, ... (click for more)

Latest Bradley County Arrest Report

Click here for the latest Bradley County arrest report. (click for more)

Opinion

Dog Abuse On Signal Mountain - And Response

I just witnessed a very disturbing and disgusting example of dog abuse on Signal Mountain. It took place in Old Town near Alexian Brothers. A man who was in his late 30s to early 40s, wearing shorts, with an athletic if not hefty build, was running a chocolate lab or a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The incident took place in the early morning. The dog stopped for a breather. When ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues ... (click for more)

Sports

Lee Wins First Gulf South Soccer Championship

Yotam Balbul headed home the lone goal of the match in the 81st minute to give the Lee men's soccer team its first Gulf South Conference Championship in program history with a 1-0 shutout of West Florida on Sunday afternoon from the Ashton Brosnaham Park. Balbul connected off a corner kick from Jared McWhorter to give the Flames the advantage late in the title game. Lee kept ... (click for more)

Lee Women Suffer 2-1 Loss In Gulf South Conference Championship

For almost 79 minutes it appeared that the Lee University women's soccer team was on its way to the Gulf South Conference Championship. However, the University of Montevallo scored the equalizer and turned the contest in their favor and rallied to score the winning goal in the 87th minute for the 2-1 victory. The Lady Flames seized control of the contest in the first half. ... (click for more)