St Elmo Historic District

Chattanooga City, Hamilton County, TN

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Moorestown Historic District

The St. Elmo Historic District is an elongated area lying approximately 15-20 blocks in a north-south direction and 3-4 blocks wide in an east-west direction. The district contains over 700 buildings with 620 contributing to the architectural significance of the district. St. Elmo is located in a valley in the southern portion of the City of Chattanooga, adjacent to the Georgia state line.

Once an incorporated town, St. Elmo's boundaries are easily perceived and recognized; the former town limits now correspond to census tract (or ward) 18. Originally developed as a Streetcar Suburb away from the Chattanooga city limits, the area was rural and somewhat isolated in the 1870s and 1880s when development first began to occur. The northern boundary of the old St. Elmo Town limits is the Broad Street ‑ Cummings Highway area where a distinct change in land use occurs.

To the west, the old Town limits lie adjacent to the undeveloped slopes of Lookout Mountain. This area is now a part of the Chickameuga and Chattanooga National Military Park, a National Register site managed by the National Park Service. To the south of the old Town limits is the Georgia State line. Across the line in Georgia, again, a distinct change in land use occurs. Instead of the single-family residential nature of St. Elmo, there is a small industrial and commercial area dividing St. Elmo from an undeveloped farming area of north Georgia. The boundary on the east is an undeveloped hill which divides St7 Elmo from the Alton Park neighborhood. To the north of the hill is Forest Hills Cemetery which is adjacent to the Alton Park Area. From within these old St. Elmo Town boundaries, the district was selected to include an area containing sites of architectural and historical merit.

St. Elmo was planned as a streetcar suburb, thus the non-residential uses are few in number. One such area is along St. Elmo Avenue in the 53rd Street section; this portion of St. Elmo appears on the 1889 Plat Map as an area of residential development centering around a few commercial shops. The primary area of commercial use in St. Elmo developed around the Cross Roads section and lias to the north, outside the district. This area has become with Lookout Mountain a center of tourist activity and contains the Incline Railway (National Register). Land use within the district is largely limited to single family residential buildings. There are, however, a few apartment buildings and some lodges and hotels. Also within the district are churches and a school, as might be expected in a residential neighborhood.

Most of the houses in St. Elmo were built for the middle-income working class and represent vernacular trends in architectural styles. They are predominantly of frame construction and are one or two stories in height. Few outstanding examples of vernacular and revival styles for residential buildings occur. Architecturally, the most significant group of structures consists of public buildings. For instance, Thankful Memorial M.E. Church is an excellent example of the Gothic Style, and the St. Elmo Presbyterian Church is unsurpassed in Chattanooga for its portrayal of the Eastlake Style. Other styles represented include Gothic Revival, Tudor, Bungalow, Shingle, Queen Anne, Classical Revival variations, and Vernacular Styles such as the "Shotgun."

The cohesiveness of St. Elmo is accentuated by comparatively narrow, tree-shaded streets which reinforce the feeling of linear continuity. Set-backs are relatively uniform. The street pattern is not the traditional grid but rather an interesting pattern of parallel streets with curves and gentle angles resulting from the geographical contours of the area as well as the nature of the development which took place first along existing roads.

Street Names
45th Street • 48th Street • 49th Street • 52nd Street • 53rd Street • 54th Street • 55th Street • Alabama Avenue • Belmont Avenue • Beulah Avenue • Dixie Avenue • Florida Avenue • Lynwood Avenue • St Elmo Avenue • Sunnyside • Tennessee Avenue • Virginia Avenue

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