Headquarters of the Dixie Highway Association -- Chattanooga TN
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 35° 02.231 W 085° 18.424
16S E 654421 N 3878476
The city of Chattanooga was the site of the first national meeting of the Dixie Highway Association and the site of the DHA National Headquarters
Waymark Code: WMWRF5
Location: Tennessee, United States
Date Posted: 10/07/2017
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member SearchN
Views: 3

The waymark coordinates are located at the Chattanooga Union Station on Market Street, now home of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel. As more Americans began traveling by car, the great passenger rail lines would see their ridership plummet, until the railroads abandoned their passenger services in the 1970s.

The Chattanooga Union Station and the Patten Hotel are both located on Market Street in downtown Chattanooga. Market Street, formerly the Dixie Highway and US 27, has been a major route through downtown Chattanooga since the city's founding (as Rossville Landing) in 1815.

In 1914, the Dixie Highway Association met in downtown Chattanooga at the Patten Hotel. By the 1970s, the Patten was a shadow if its former self, ripe for conversion. The hotel was gutted and converted into a housing project for the elderly and poor of Chattanooga in the 1970s.

From the Nooga.com website: (visit link)

Patten Towers stand as witness to era gone by
By JAMES HARRISON - Published on July 10, 2011

The banquet which took place in downtown Chattanooga on April 1, 1908, was heralded as “one of the most brilliant assemblages ever held” in the city.

Crowds gathered on the corner of Market and East 11th Street to witness the spectacle. Bankers, businessmen, and public figures from several states filed through the entrance of Hotel Patten, a new building described by the Chattanooga Times as a “Mecca for people today.”

The “fireproof” hotel was the largest of its kind to have been built in the city. It was raised in the city’s Stone Fort District, not too far away from railroad offices and the newly built Choo Choo Terminal. The costs of construction were estimated to have been in excess of $1 million.

Today, the building is known as Patten Towers. For more than 30 years, it has served as a government subsidized housing facility for low-income, elderly and disabled persons, who occupy rooms once intended to accommodate travelers for $1.50 a night.

When it opened, experts predicted the 251 room Hotel Patten would entertain 60,000 guests each year. More than $1,000 worth of business was expected to be done per day. The railroad business was booming, and the core of downtown was gradually shifting east, towards the tracks.

J.B. Pound, owner of the Chattanooga News, foresaw the growth that would surround the intersection of the city’s freight and passenger lines. In a direct attempt to compete with The Read House, Pound solicited funds from a prominent, wealthy Chattanoogan named Z.C. Patten to build the iconic structure.

The talents of W.T. Downing, an Atlanta architect known for his Gothic Revival style, were enlisted to design the building. His touch was evident in the limestone foundations and sunken iron window casings pointing skyward toward the building’s eleven story crest, which at the time was tall enough to be considered a skyscraper.

Marble was imported to grace the walls and floors of the entrance hall. Artwork documenting local Civil War scenes was commissioned to adorn hallways that lead to a barbershop, ballrooms, a swimming pool, and billiard room trimmed in Flemish Oak.

The hotel quickly became a hub for significant events and meetings held in Chattanooga. President William Howard Taft attended a banquet there in 1911, and in 1915, the first meeting of the Dixie Highway Automobile Association was held for governors who met to map out a core network of roads stretching from Miami to Chicago.

Later, in 1925, the first radio broadcast in Chattanooga’s history was emitted from within the hotel on WDOD, the “Dynamite of Dixie.” Artists booked for performances nearby at the Tivoli Theater would often stay overnight, and every baseball club that played the Lookouts booked rooms while in town.

After becoming a Massachusetts Senator, John F. Kennedy spoke at a banquet held in the hotel ballroom in 1953. And during Jimmy Hoffa’s trial for bribery and fraud held in 1964, it was rumored that fellow teamsters pointed listening devices towards the courthouse from Hotel Patten windows, hoping to eavesdrop on jury deliberations.

But as railroad traffic declined and projects such as the Golden Gateway began to divert travelers around downtown Chattanooga, the hotel experienced a plummet in business. Downtown infrastructure deteriorated, and in 1969, Walter Cronkite infamously declared the city “Dirtiest in America.” In 1971, the last passenger train departed Union Station, signifying the end of an area.

No longer a destination, Hotel Patten became more or less apartments. Gone were the days of notable meetings and visits from dignitaries. Articles from the era pertaining to the building chronicled staffing and management changes, parking purchases, minor additions, and a handful of fires.

Then, in 1977, talks began circulating for the hotel to be purchased by a private Knoxville firm and converted into a 221 unit apartment for the elderly, under a new government program called “Section 8.” Rent subsidies up to 85 percent would be provided to qualified tenants, in an attempt to lure residents back to a downtown Chattanooga that had been all but abandoned. At the time, the move made sense.

But the change would come with a price, as redevelopment called for the complete gutting of the vintage building. The exterior facade would remain the same, but the entire inside of the Hotel Patten, all the interior walls, everything, was to be demolished and rebuilt.

News of the hotel’s closing spread, and thousands of Chattanoogans flocked to furnishing sales to purchase doors, chests, chairs, and tables. An iconic sign atop the hotel was removed, and the broadcast towers for WDOD were taken down. Demolition crews destroyed vintage handiwork, and within ten years, the first residents of Patten Towers moved in.

Today, the structure sits at the core of downtown, between City Hall, TVA and EPB headquarters, and Federal Buildings. Thousands of commuters pass by residents who sit on benches outside, waiting for rides, or enjoying the fresh air. No longer are guests greeted by a friendly concierge, instead, a security guard asks for identification and the reason for visiting, as a reputation for crime and disorder has replaced the prestige of a building once called a “monument to greater Chattanooga.”

Barely 100 years since its construction, the role of Patten Towers is a far cry from the original vision of J.B. Pound. But the structure still stands, and its value as a historic building from an era gone by remains. For future generations, a change to the role of the property in the downtown landscape is within the bounds of possibility."

For purposes of visiting this waymark, we will accept any personally-obtained photo of an identifiable Chattanooga landmark from the hey day od the DHA, 1917-1960s.
Americana: Roadside Attraction

Significant Interest: Other

Milestone or Marker: Other

Web Site Address: [Web Link]

Physical Address:
1400 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN

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