There was such a ravine to the north of West Second Street at Cameron Hill that for many years no one ventured to build a house on the steep slope. The houses at that time ended at Pine Street.
It was not until 1915 that a house was erected at 401 West Second. It was not only past Pine Street, but also above Poplar and just below Cedar.
The handsome two-story house faced Second Street and had a double back porch that overlooked the Tennessee River and the hills and mountains beyond. There was a portico at the front entrance. A ravine dropped off just below the house that overlooked the Loomis and Hart lumber and furniture plant. Another steep dropoff was in the downhill direction of Pine Street.
One of the first occupants was Herbert W. Spencer, who was the president of the Spencer-Dowler Co., general insurance agents.
By 1920, the big house was occupied by one of the city's most interesting characters. John Troutt was born at Halifax, Pa., in 1843, the son of Daniel and Mary Loudmilish Troutt. They were also natives of Pennsylvania, where they died in 1851 and 1854 respectively, leaving John Troutt an orphan. He followed the masonry and stone cutting trade until 1868 when he headed West. His experiences there "were filled with thrills and exciting experiences." He took part in the Gold Rush and was "an Indian fighter." Troutt got into railroad building in the West and one of his most thrilling experiences was seeing the arrival of the first train along the tracks he had helped erect. He was in Montana, Utah, Arkansas and then Texas.
John Troutt was drawn to Chattanooga by the project to connect Chattanooga with Cincinnati by rail. He also said he had heard of Chattanooga "in the barbarous wilds of Arkansas" and "it sounded like a pretty good city." He picked up the news about the new rail line while he was going through Texas. He was one of the contractors on the line that was first built to Boyce in East Chattanooga and then on into downtown. With his masonry skills, he built a wall where the railroad passed by the National Cemetery. Troutt liked Chattanooga so well that he decided to stay.
When the contractor for the stone work on the Stone Methodist Church skipped out, Troutt and a partner finished it. He also helped build the pink sandstone First Baptist Church on Georgia Avenue and the Sts. Peter's and Paul's Catholic Church on Eighth Street.
Troutt & Coxon, dealers in marble furniture slabs, and manufacturers of monuments and general cemetery work, was established in September, 1885. They employed two traveling salesmen and 75 work hands. When William Coxon died in 1888, Trout established his own stone firm, setting up his yard across from City Hall at 11th and Newby. He laid the stepping stones from the Union Station to the hotel in front of it. He did some of the stone pillars on the Walnut Street Bridge. He erected many of the monuments at Chickamauga Battlefield. Troutt erected the first monument that was erected at Forest Hills Cemetery in St. Elmo. He also did the second and third ones - for W.P. Rathburn and Euclid Waterhouse. And he built the monument to the Andrews Raiders at the National Cemetery.
Troutt took down the huge limestone mound called the Stone Fort that had long stood at 11th Street. As many as 100 men were involved at a time in taking down the stone pile. They were paid 10 cents an hour for the arduous work. Troutt supplied the stone for many of the town's important buildings and homes, and he did work as far away as Atlanta. He performed valuable service during the Yellow Fever.
He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and a close friend of Dr. J.W. Bachman.
He married Annie Gilliam of Dayton in 1888 - when he was 45. They had sons William Jacob and D. Roger. William J. Troutt lived at the West Second Street home and attended the public schools. He graduated from the Chattanooga College of Law in 1914. After just getting his law practice to a firm footing, his father suffered health problems and W.J. Troutt then took over management of the stone business. However, his father's health improved and the son went back to the law business.
W.J. Troutt married Irene Gorman at Jellico, Tn., on April 30, 1917. She was very active in church work and was a member of the Woman's Club of Chattanooga. She was the first nurse employed by the Chattanooga Public Schools. William Troutt was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher at First Presbyterian Church. The W.J. Troutts made their home at 3413 Alta Vista, east of Missionary Ridge.
John Troutt was active in business until the fall of 1929, and he died the following April. He was 87. His wife had died in 1918.
The house on West Second had passed on to Robert C. Ragon, vice president of Ragon Auto.
Then in 1927, it was occupied as three apartments. A.O. Berry, M.A. Smith and A.R. Simmons lived there.
By 1930, a house had been built even further up West Second Street. The new home at 403 W. Second was occupied by M.B. Finkelstein, who became a judge in Chancery Court. Gordon Lewis later lived there. Houses were added at 407 and 411 West Second. Barney Kaplan and his wife, Fannie, lived there. The Kaplans had a grocery at 314 West 10th St. Dr. Millard B. Moore was the occupant of 411 West. Second. With a U.S. Army background, he was a dentist.
The Leon P. Silberman family held sway at the 401 W. Second St. home in the final days of Cameron Hill. Mike Goldberg was in Apt. 2 and L.H. Brewer in Apt. 3.
Gale Weidner Fleming, who grew up on Cameron Hill and at one time lived at 200 Poplar St., often visited the Silbermans there. She said, "The house was enormous on the main level with a very big playroom in the basement. There was an apartment (at least one and maybe two) that was rented to a young Jewish couple, Phil and Goldie Zimmerman. Goldie was the older sister of my friend, Bertha Monet. I remember being in their apartment on a Friday late afternoon as the dining room was being elegantly set for the family Shabbat meal."
Near the end, H.J. Gordon was now at 403 W. Second, while Barney Kaplan remained at 407. I.L. Barth was at 409 and E.C. Ortmeier Jr. lived at 411 West Second - the last house built in that row of homes.