Treasured Memories

The Moores’ Historic NorthShore Home

 

Gary and Christy Moore say it’s not uncommon for people to knock on their door and ask to come inside to see their house. It’s not that the visitors are total strangers, it’s just that they remember visiting the house in years past and are curious about how much it’s changed in the past 15 years. The Moores’ answer? Not much. They’ve made it a point to retain the character of the North Chattanooga house built in the 1930s.

By Rebecca Rochat

 

 

Christy was driving to work at AVA on Frazier Avenue when she first spotted the “For Sale” sign in the yard of the Chattanooga home. She was engaged to Gary at the time, and having always loved North Chattanooga and its revitalization, she quickly called him to tell him about the house. The Moores were sold at first sight, and even had their wedding reception in the new home after being married at nearby St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

Later, the Moores’ ties to St. Mark’s turned out to be somewhat serendipitous. The couple met a fellow member, Bob Graham, whose grandfather, Robert Henry Graham, had built the home. Soon, they were learning everything they could about its history.

A WWI veteran, Robert Graham bought the home’s lot in the early 20th century, during the time when the Walnut Bridge was built and North Chattanooga was thriving. He had decided to replace a wood frame house that had burned to the ground with a brick house in its place. Robert Graham would later serve as air raid warden of the Hill City neighborhood during WWII.

Robert’s son Riley, a lawyer and General Sessions Court Judge, would become the home’s next owner. Riley would see clients in the sunroom off the living room, which had a separate front entrance and French doors closing it off from the home’s main entrance.

Over several decades, the home saw visits from prominent citizens like former U.S. Senator and Vice Presidential candidate, Estes Kefauver, and former Governor Frank Clement. The Moores also learned that their wedding reception wasn’t the first to be held there— Bob Graham’s aunt, Jane Aytes, had been the first bride.

Gary and Christy explain their renovations have been “mostly cosmetic.” The original oak flooring—milled at the old Chattanooga Millworks on the river—and cherry-stained doors and moldings are still prominent features of the home, along with other architectural elements like the blond brick fireplace and hearth in the living room, with built-in bookcases and diamondshaped mullions on either side.

The front windows spanning the Moore’s sunroom and living room are deliberately left uncovered to let an abundance of natural light flow in, and honey-colored floors, cherry-stained woodwork, and walls painted in a rich orange all combine to lend an atmosphere of warmth to both the living and dining rooms.

In the living room, orange tones in an oriental rug are picked up in bright orange accent cushions on the sofa and matching club chair. A collection of old jars is displayed on the mantel, over which hangs a painting by local artist, Lawrence Mathis. This is just the first expression of the Moore’s passion for collecting local art. Throughout the house, works by artists including Elizabeth Decosimo, Carolyn Killebrew, Mary B. Lynch, and Joe Jumper are displayed prominently on the walls, and juxtaposed with family heirlooms, antiques, and eclectic styles of furniture.

In the entrance area between the living room and sunroom, an old trunk sits under an antique secretary. Adding a creative twist, Christy arranged the books asymmetrically in the upper shelves, with the bottom and side pages facing out rather than the spines. A rocking chair with a crewel embroidered back and seat that once belonged to Gary’s aunt rests nearby.

The sunroom, now serving as a TV room, is furnished with a comfortable leather sofa, oriental rug, and wing chair upholstered in a paisley print. A bright red quilt made by Christy’s grandmother is displayed on the wall, as well as a collection of folk art pieces.

The orange color palette in the dining room is accented nicely by shades of blue. Blue velvet curtains hang to the floor, and another oriental rug under the dining table draws of hues of both colors. The country-style table with ladder back chairs is paired with formal antique furnishings, such as a Sheraton side table, and a Federal sideboard, flanked by Chinese Chippendale side chairs. Adding a hint of whimsy to the room, two long, blue shutters are placed on either side of the sideboard, over which hangs a painting of cows by Carolyn Killebrew.

A hallway off the entrance area leads to a guest bedroom and the bedroom and bathroom of the Moore’s son, Jacob. The hallway still has the original phone niche, and its plaster walls were painted and texturized in a light gold, with one wall accented in a Harlequin pattern.

Jacob’s room is decked out in patriotic colors—blue walls provide a striking backdrop to his bed with a red quilted bed covering and pillows. Folded at the foot of the bed is another family quilt, made in 1885 by Christy’s great-grandmother in a red, white and blue “pickle jar” pattern. Christy opens the quilt to point out why this one is Jacob’s favorite—an old blood stain shows the quilt had been hand-stitched. Women would often prick their finger while sewing, she explains.

Another hand-sewn family treasure— a flag from Gary’s family with only 48 stars—hangs over the bed, and the walls are decorated in Jacob’s artwork from Normal Park School and framed albums of Disney movie soundtracks that once belonged to his mother. Jacob’s bath has white tile floors, wainscoting, and a pedestal sink. The upper walls are white, textured plaster, and a double window has etched glass in a floral design.

At the end of the hallway, steep stairs lead to what once was the attic, but is now the master suite. Gary and Christy converted half of the full attic for their bedroom area, which now mixes new and old architectural elements. Brick walls of a basement coal furnace vented through the roof were left intact, but there are now new skylights over the bed. Built-in bookshelves line one wall of the room, and another displays a folk art painting by Cornbread.

The bedroom is furnished with two unique chests. One, a goddess chest from Tibet, has six field panels brightly painted with green, orange and blue flowers, and bordered with the Chinese key pattern. The other, a pine chest of drawers, is embellished with brass key plates and corner molding. A glassfronted cabinet displays several quilts made by Christy’s grandmother.

In the back of the home, the Moores removed a wall between the kitchen and an adjoining apartment, a common feature of North Chattanooga homes. Now, the upstairs portion of the apartment has been converted into a cozy den and half-bath.

As in other parts of the house, Christy has mixed family heirlooms and antiques with eclectic styles of furniture. Her grandmother’s spinning wheel hangs over a spiral staircase, and a family quilt covers the seat cushions of the green velvet sofa. A wooden dowry chest with a colorful tin front of painted peacocks embellished with metal banding and studs stands in front of the sofa, and a small Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style chair rests nearby.

Just down the staircase is Gary’s office, formerly the downstairs portion of the apartment, and before that, Judge Graham’s “gun room.” Now in its third incarnation, the space still retains remnants of its former uses. Judge Graham’s original gun cabinet is here, and a small separate kitchen houses Christy’s grandmother’s pie safe. A door leading out of the apartment opens to a backyard oasis with a patio and lily pond and manicured yard.

The Moores explain that their most recent home project has been the adjoining kitchen, which still has the original breakfast nook. Three layers of linoleum were removed (“you had to step up to go into the kitchen”) to reveal the same honey-colored oak flooring found in the rest of the house. New granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a gas range and oven, and new beautifully crafted cabinets in “kelp” gray were also installed. The kelp gray color is also used in the breakfast nook, which features the original built-in butler’s pantry.

Of all of the welcoming spaces in Gary and Christy’s home, the one most take advantage of is the covered porch spanning the front of the house. Once totally enclosed, the porch now is an open space. The windows have been removed and brick walls and pillars left intact as well as the original hexagon tile flooring in faded hues of terra cotta, gold, and green.

Two pergolas project over the front and side steps. Seating includes the original Adirondack chairs that belonged to Gary’s family and a metal glider. What once were the brick sills of the windows are now lined with flower boxes, tin planters and buckets all brimming with flowers and plants. The secluded front porch is a perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon or summer, spring or fall evening.

Christy and Gary have seen firsthand the revitalization of North Chattanooga and much has changed for the better in the 15 years they have lived there. Today, both the neighborhood and the home are thriving just as they once were when their house was built in the 1930s.

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