The Oldest Buildings in Chattanooga

Popular Scenic City Spots a Century & Older

Did you know that some of Chattanooga’s most iconic spots are also its most historic? From hosting silent movies and passenger trains to influential families and supply stores, these landmark locations are rich with a century or more of Scenic City history. Discover the origins of these buildings and learn some fun facts for next time you have company in tow.

Tivoli Theatre

The Tivoli Theatre hosts dozens of concerts and events each year and is well-loved by many members and fans of Chattanoga’s performing arts community. Its location in City Center is easy to spot, thanks to its eye-catching neon sign. While today the marquee advertises upcoming Broadway shows and musical performances, a century ago it was listing silent movies. When the Tivoli first opened in 1921, it was the go-to spot in town to experience the novelty of moving pictures. The advent of television in the mid-century nearly led to the theater being demolished, but it was thankfully spared after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. A longtime staple among Chattanooga’s venues, Tivoli has been entertaining Chattanoogans for over 90 years, and will continue to for many more.

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Chattanooga Choo Choo

It’s no secret that the Chattanooga Choo Choo used to be a train station, but did you know the terminal was the first railway station in the South? Originally known as the Terminal Station, the depot opened in 1909 and would later become one of Chattanooga’s first historic preservation projects. In the early 1970s, a group of businessmen renovated the station and it celebrated its grand reopening as the Chattanooga Choo Choo, inspired by the 1941 song by Glenn Miller Orchestra. The Choo Choo has since evolved into a thriving spot for tourists and locals alike, boasting a directory of hotel rooms (in converted Pullman Train Cars), restaurants, venues, and more.

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Hunter Museum of American Art

While the Hunter Museum of American Art has seen several additions since its opening, it all began with the Faxon-Hunter Mansion, which now houses the museum’s permanent collection. The Neoclassical-style mansion was built in 1905 for a wealthy insurance broker, looking out over the Tennessee River from its prime spot atop the bluff. After decades of residential use, the mansion was converted for a different use – displaying art. In 1952, Chattanooga’s first art museum, the George Thomas Hunter Gallery of Art, opened to the public. Later renamed the Hunter Museum of American Art, the museum draws visitors from all over the world with its large collection of American artwork. Next time you visit this wing of the museum, make sure to check out the fireplaces, wall moldings, and sconces, which are all original to the building, and enjoy both the centuries-old mansion and the artwork that calls it home.

Warehouse Row

A champion of adaptive reuse, Warehouse Row consists of multiple connecting buildings converted into a chic shopping center. The first warehouse was constructed in 1904 and housed a grocery store, and over the next three years, three more buildings would be added. In 1989, Warehouse Row opened to the public as a retail and office complex, and in 2006, was reimagined as an upscale shopping destination. Warehouse Row’s elevated directory and posh environment are sure to impress. After you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped, enjoy fine dining at one of the shopping center’s restaurants.

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Bluff View Art District

For Scenic City residents, the name Maclellan House might not ring a bell, but the Bluff View Art District certainly does. The Maclellan House, built in 1889, is the oldest of the several houses that comprise the Bluff View Inn. The surrounding Bluff View neighborhood was created at the turn of the eighteenth century with the construction of homes in the style of a small European village. Today, this area perched atop the bluff transports you to that of a peaceful hamlet, with the smells of baking bread, roasting coffee beans, and homemade chocolate at every turn. Enjoy art installations and a gallery as you stroll the district, and savor the locally-made delicacies this district is well known for.

Carousel at Coolidge Park

Children and adults alike have enjoyed hopping aboard the carousel at Coolidge Park for over 20 years, and the carousel itself has been around for an entire century longer than that. The carousel was originally built in 1894 by the G.A. Dentzel Company, and its model is one of the earliest and most famous types constructed in America. The carousel was housed in Atlanta until the 1980’s, when a local wood carver named Bud Ellis and a team of volunteers restored the ride. After 12 years of restoration work including 52 hand-carved animals, the carousel opened at its new location in Coolidge Park in 1999. Next time you visit the park, take a ride on the carousel and enjoy the craftsmanship on display, and if you have kids, see if they can spot the names painted on some of the animals. Plus, it’s only $1 to ride!

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