Frances Street Smith Still Remembers The Full Layout Of Their Cameron Hill Home

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - by John Wilson

The Streets were among the prominent families living on Cameron Hill.

Frances Street Smith, who went there when she was three and did not move away until she was 17, remembers those days well.

She said their house was 519 Arcadia Ave. - the last house on the block of the short dead end street that was near the top of Cameron Hill. It was near a drop off and a brick wall helped shore up the two-story brick house.

The Streets had a wonderful view at the north end of the hill. Frances remembers looking down toward Blue Goose Hollow and seeing lines of church parishioners dressed all in white marching toward the river for a baptism. They could also see the nearby sand plant from their vantage point.

Their house was near the wide, steep concrete steps that were on the side of Cameron Hill and were remembered by many of its residents.

Frances said the houses on Cameron Hill did not have air conditioning. She said nearby were several large homes that had apartments attached to them. She said it largely was a Jewish neighborhood, and she delighted in listening to neighbors talk in Yiddish. A prominent neighbor was Harry Phillips.

Frances would sometimes walk up to the nearby Boynton Park that had an even more expansive view. She remembered the cannon that had been placed at the park. Other times she would walk up to see her neighbor Barbara Jordan.

It was her Street grandparents who had first lived on Cameron Hill. Harry Street was in the machinery business. Also, he was in charge of the mechanical and building departments at the Chattanooga Times beginning in 1893. She remembers him as being disabled and having trouble walking. But she said he managed to slowly make his way up the many steps at the Arcadia home. There was a covered driveway on the right for a single car. They had a green Dodge. You went up steps to the main house to a room where the family's telephone was situated. There was a fireplace in the living room on the right and the family radio as well as a grand piano were in a sitting room on the left. Upstairs were three bedrooms - one for Harry Street, another for her parents and a small one for her. There was a single bathroom in the house. There was a dugout basement where the dogs always went to have their puppies. 

Her father, Gordon Street, had once been out with a group at the time there was an attractive girl visiting from Ponca City, Okla. - Ruth Lowrance. She had been lined up to date John L. Hutcheson on an outing to the Fairyland Club, but she wound up sitting by Gordon Street in the rumble seat of their roadster. Frances said, "They held hands going down Lookout Mountain, and they were married six months later."

Ruth's father, Preston Lowrance, owned a bank in Brownsville, Tex., that was not doing well, and Gordon Street went out to help run it. The bank eventually failed as many others did during the Depression and the Gordon Streets returned to Missionary Ridge. When the wife of Harry Street died, they moved in with him on Arcadia. She said she never knew her Street grandmother.

Gordon Street initially worked in repossessions for the EPB, but he eventually bought out the Wheland Foundry interests along South Broad Street and that proved to be a lucrative business for many years. The Gordon Streets then moved away from Cameron Hill to a fine home in Riverview in 1948. That was near where Frances attended Girls Preparatory School. She was in her senior year when they moved.

Gordon Street became a prominent preservationist. He help save the Carnegie Library, the Dome Building and a portion of the Stone Methodist Church.

Frances married Gordon Smith and they continued to live in Riverview on Winding Way. He was one more Gordon in her life. Her father was Gordon and her brother Gordon Jr.

Frances went off to college and met her future husband, then they planned their Chattanooga wedding. She said Harry Street was in poor health, but he kept looking for the day that his granddaughter's upcoming nuptials would be announced in the society section of the Chattanooga Times. Frances said, "Each day he would ask me, 'Will it be today?" The day finally came when the Smith-Street engagement got top billing with a large photo in the paper. That was the day that Harry Street died.

 

 

 


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