3-Story House Was Built Into The Side Of A Cameron Hill Cliff; One Of City's Most Picturesque Characters Lived There

  • Tuesday, September 27, 2022
  • John Wilson

There is a curious three-story frame house that was built into the side of a cliff near the top of Cameron Hill. The basement and the second floor faced the street below (Pleasant (later a part of Cedar), while the top floor served as the front door and was on Prospect Street (later Boynton Terrace).

It appears in several photographs made from the very top of the historic hill that was toppled during Urban Renewal in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

With the top of the hill long vanished, it's difficult to figure out where many of the interesting Cameron Hill homes were actually situated.

Sam Hall of Chattanoogahistory.com, with his adept use of old Cameron Hill plats, solved this mystery.

He was able to determine that the house that is so prominent in many Cameron Hill photos was at 312 Prospect St. (later Boynton Terrace).

In one early picture by Chattanooga photographer A.W. Judd, that was likely taken in the late 1880s, the tall house was standing by itself. There is a ladder positioned against the front of the house, and it appears it may still be under construction.

Another photo taken in 1890 shows one house close by on its left and three others nearby on the south side. The house on the left has a porch on the front on the south side. The two homes built just south of the tall house were apparently identical. The plat of the 300 block of Prospect Street matches up with all of those details.

The house with the southside porch was 310 Prospect. The tall house was 312. The identical houses were 314 and 316. Another nearby house just to the south was 318 Prospect.

One photo shows that 318 Prospect was by the trestle that was built for the Cameron Hill Incline Railway that ran for a few years in the early 1890s to the top of the hill. The Incline ran up West Fourth Street until it went across private property on the trestle.

Daniel L. Hornbarger, who worked for J.H. Wann, is shown as the first resident of 312 Prospect. T.C. Williams and G.F. Alexander were living there a few years later.

Marshall H. "Marsh" Doughty with his large family occupied the tall home for a number of years in the early 1900s. An attorney and local politician, he "was one of the city's most picturesque characters." 

Marsh Doughty was born in Meigs County, but he spent most of his life in Chattanooga - and much of it on Cameron Hill.

In his youth, Marsh Doughty was "considered a dangerous man in a quarrel. He was a stranger to physical fear and ready at times to assert his fearlessness." In later years, he tamed that recklessness and often spoke of the dangers he had put himself and others in. At this time he was considered "a champion for civic righteousness."

Doughty gained a seat on the Board of Alderman and served on the City Council as well. He was mayor pro temp of Chattanooga at one point and vice president of the Aldermen under the old form of government. While in his government posts, "his rugged independence was frequently asserted."

Marsh Doughty was a patrolman before gaining his law degree and practicing in the local courts.

He died at the tall house in December 1915 after an illness of two years. He was 56. He was buried at the White Oak Cemetery.

He had been married for 37 years to Valeria Coker and they raised five children. A daughter, Clara Goddard, was the wife of the minister of a church at Park City, a suburb of Knoxville. Sons Clarence and Ross lived at Middletown, Ohio, while Paul and Winfred stayed in Chattanooga. 

E.W. Canfield had moved in by the next year. W.P. Levi was living there followed by R.O. Dorsey and W.K. Fletcher (second floor) in the 1920s. 

W.M. Bragg, popular insurance man, called it home beginning around 1929. He had five daughters and three sons so all three sections of the house were put to good use.

Bragg appeared in ads for Herb Extract, touting how it had ended his constipation problems.

He died while living at the 312 address in December of 1933. He was 62. The daughters were Media and Clarice of Chattanooga, Ruth and Mrs. C.B. Stone of Woodbury, Tn., and Claudia of Nashville. The sons - W.M. Jr., Roy and Charles - all stayed in Chattanooga. 

By 1941, the house had been divided into three sections. Mrs. S.C. Miller was on the top portion. Walter Skates had the second floor and J.H. Dearing the basement.

Grover C. and Annie Ruth Hall lived there in 1955 - just before the unique home was knocked down. Grover Hall worked for King's Bakery. 




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