published Monday, April 29th, 2013

Historic renovation: Civil War surgeon's home on the mend in Tunnel Hill, Ga.

Ted Dyer unloads new wood for updating the second-oldest house in Tunnel Hill, Ga. "It's got a lot of history," Dyer said. "The doctor that owned this house took care of soldiers during the Civil War battle here." The house was built in the 1870s, according to Dyer.
Ted Dyer unloads new wood for updating the second-oldest house in Tunnel Hill, Ga. "It's got a lot of history," Dyer said. "The doctor that owned this house took care of soldiers during the Civil War battle here." The house was built in the 1870s, according to Dyer.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Dr. Julius Clements was a surgeon who tended Confederate soldiers wounded in battle near Tunnel Hill, Ga.

Clements took a trip to Italy afterward -- apparently to get the Civil War off his mind -- and made a drawing of a house with three gables that caught his eye.

"He saw that home and sketched it," said Hub Griffin, who works at the visitors center at the Historic Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel.

Using his sketch as a design, Clements had a three-gabled house built in 1870 near the 1,477-foot-long railroad tunnel.

Now, the house is being fixed up by Ted Dyer, a contractor who's a native of Tunnel Hill. Dyer said he hopes to have the house finished in six months so he can move in with his wife, son and mother.

"It's a nice house, and it's got a lot of history," he said. "I've always liked this house."

"[Clements] had the best material shipped in," Dyer said.

In its day, the home was state-of-the-art, he said. Two interior fireplaces meant that every bedroom had heat.

The home's metal-covered roof is steep. Griffin speculated that the roof's pitch was a snow-shedding feature of the Italian home from which Clements drew his inspiration.

"Apparently, where he went in Italy, they must have had a lot of snow," Griffin said.

Griffin is happy to see repairs being made to the house, which is just down the road from the historic tunnel.

"The guy who bought it is really determined to fix it up," he said of Dyer.

"He's going to have a beautiful home when he's done," Griffin said. "It's been an eyesore for years."

Dyer said he thinks the Clements House is the second-oldest home in Tunnel Hill, after the Clisby Austin House that was built in 1848 and served as headquarters for Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman during the Battle of Dalton.

"I'd imagine he's right," Griffin said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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