Renovations lift neighborhoods

Renovations lift neighborhoods

March 25th, 2012 by Carey O'Neil in Chattanooganow2012

Betsy Bramlett and Mark Rudisill completed a six-month remodeling project to enhance their Missionary Ridge home.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

WHERE TO FIND THEM

• St. Elmo

• Fort Wood

• Ferger Place

• Highland Park

• North Chattanooga

• Glenwood

• Missionary Ridge

OLDIES BUT GOODIES

In Hamilton County, 29.7 percent of the houses are at least 50 years old, including just over 10 percent that are at least 75 years old, according to the 2010 census.

Judith Schorr has seen lots of change since moving to the historic Highland Park neighborhood in 1975.

Decades ago, Schorr was attracted to the family-oriented community surrounded by architecture dating back as far as the late 1800s, but then crime slowly crept in. The 1980s and 1990s brought drugs and prostitution to Highland Park, but Schorr wasn't content to sit back and watch the neighborhood she loved fall apart.

She was a founder of her neighborhood association, helping push back against rising crime numbers. Today, the neighborhood's crime is down, residents are remodeling their homes and the community is upgrading the neighborhood. At the end of 2011, the community finished building Highland Park Commons, which quickly has become a popular spot for kids and families.

"They are down there constantly playing soccer, playing on the playground, taking their lunch and enjoying the area. It's just a marvelous place," Schorr said. "It's just a complete turnaround."

The historic Missionary Ridge neighborhood also is gearing up for some updates. The neighborhood association is looking for ways to improve the walkability of the community, highlighting various monuments to the Battle of Missionary Ridge for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

"We try to preserve as many things that we've got from the historical past with the modern things," said Ron Morris, president of the association. "We're trying to make the experience for both visitors and walkers a bit better."

Striking a balance between preserving the past and staying modern can be a struggle for historic neighborhoods. The St. Elmo neighborhood walks that line by preserving homes' historic exteriors while updating area amenities.

Road safety, playgrounds and community-building initiatives such as St. Elmo road sign toppers have fronted the neighborhood association's agenda, helping increase the sense of ownership the community feels.

"We really encourage our residents to get involved," said Rebekah Forman with the Community Association of Historic St. Elmo. "It's really a great neighborhood to live in. It' s a great community."