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

Top Hamilton County Schools Salaries 2019

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Raymond J. Rzeplinski, 43, Arrested After SWAT Call Friday Night


Here are the top Hamilton County Schools salaries for 2019: (click for more)

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ARROWOOD, MICHAEL RICHARD 907 MASTERSON AVENUE HIXSON, 37343 Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County AIDING ... (click for more)

The suspect in Friday’s SWAT call on Crabtree Road was Raymond J. Rzeplinski, 43. He has been charged with p ossession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a prohibited weapon, ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Top Hamilton County Schools Salaries 2019

Here are the top Hamilton County Schools salaries for 2019: (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ARROWOOD, MICHAEL RICHARD 907 MASTERSON AVENUE HIXSON, 37343 Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County AIDING & ABETTING (ESCAPE OR CONDUCT OF ANOTHER) ----- BARNES, VICKEAUNIA MONTRICIA 3203 HILLWOOD DR CHATTANOOGA, 37411 Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ASSAULT ... (click for more)

Opinion

Good Sports Bar News

Just had dinner Tuesday night at Jonathan's Grille location in Hendersonville, Tn. When in Murfreesboro or Nashville, it's one of my favs. Just a great sports bar concept and menu. So happy to hear the Revelette brothers are bringing their brand (and their pizza night) to the old 212 Market location in downtown Chattanooga. Bring it on! Garry Mac (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

As I stood in the checkout line of the Walmart in Tiftonia this week, my newest friend named Harold asked me, “What’s the difference between an outlaw and an in-law. As I searched my mind, Harold responded, “Outlaws are wanted!” I immediately accepted his joke as a good omen. It helps me to remind readers of The Saturday Funnies, I just collect them during the week and pass them ... (click for more)

Sports

Saturday's Best Of Preps Football Jamboree Scores

SATURDAY'S RESULTS Howard 14, Copper Basin 0 Cleveland 7, Red Bank 7 Howard 8, Signal Mountain 6 East Ridge 14, Copper Basin 6 Red Bank 13, Walker Valley 7 Sale Creek 6, Signal Mountain 0 Walker Valley 14, McMinn Co. 0 Brainerd 0, McMinn Co. 0 Brainerd 13, Sale Creek 7 Ooltewah 13, Notre Dame 7 Baylor 14, Soddy Daisy 0 Notre Dame 20, Soddy Daisy ... (click for more)

CFC Falls To Detroit City, 2-1

Alun Webb found himself in a familiar setting: streaking down the pitch on a breakaway in the 7. After Juan Hernandez’s lead pass led him past the defense, Webb’s only obstacle was the prowling Detroit City goalkeeper. As he entered the box, Webb slowed down ever so slightly, and began to load up for the inevitable volley. That shot never came, as Detroit’s Tendai Jirira ... (click for more)