Local residents try to save the Hardy house on Lookout Mountain

Local residents try to save the Hardy house on Lookout Mountain

January 22nd, 2018 by Alexandra Farmer in Local Regional News

The former Hardy home sits atop Lookout Mountain within the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. (Contributed photo)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Editor's note: This story first appeared in Community News.

The former Hardy home on Lookout Mountain is going to be turned into a parking lot, and historians are not happy.

A Facebook page, Saving Littleholme, dedicated to raising awareness of the home and the hope that it will be saved, had 855 followers as of press time.

The house was built in 1928 by Edith Soper Hardy after her husband died and left her $25,000 to turn her home into the one she'd always dreamed of. So she tore down the 1800's cottage on the property and built a small, storybook-style home.

When Edith Hardy died in 1944, the Williams family moved in, spending more than 50 years there. They then sold the house to the Trust For Public Land, which donated it to the National Park Service.

The great hall of the Hardy home, built in 1928, shows signs of neglect. (Contributed photo)

The great hall of the Hardy home, built...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

A group of locals is working to salvage and refurbish the home. (Contributed photo)

A group of locals is working to salvage...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Local historian David Moon, founder of PicNooga, a historical photography preservation organization, argues the house has historical value due to Edith's humanitarian work and her husband Richard's time as mayor of Chattanooga from 1923 to 1927. Edith founded the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga in 1910 and was named director of The American Humane Association.

However, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, on whose land the house sits, is dedicated to local Civil War history.

The Hardy house, said park Superintendent Brad Bennett, is an obstacle to the park's fundamental purpose.

"It's a 20th century structure that was dropped onto the battlefield," Bennett said. "We want to restore the landscape around the Cravens house — a house that was actually there for the battle."

After two decades of neglect, the paint on the Hardy house is peeling on the inside and out, ivy has grown to the roof line and mold has blackened the caulking.

"We don't waste taxpayer money to maintain a building that is not connected to the fundamental purpose of the park," Bennett said.

In 2015, public meetings were held to discuss the restoration of the battlefield grounds, which includes the demolition of the Hardy house along with seven other buildings.

"The goal is to restore the landscape so it looks closer to what it did in 1863," Bennett explained.

The .42-acre-site on which the Hardy house sits will be turned into a parking lot for Cravens house, he said.

Moon, however, is "not giving up."

The Hardy home was recently put on local historic preservation group Cornerstones Inc.'s Endangered Properties list and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, he said. Moon hopes to get more support and have the property and home appraised to possibly be sold to a person or organization who could salvage it and open it to the public.

He also plans to start a formal petition to save the Hardy house, he said.

The park competes with 417 other national parks for limited funding, making the plans for demolition long-term plans, Bennett said.

"We do not have funding to demolish any of the eight buildings," he said. "Therefore there is no imminent threat to those buildings, and there is no known timeline."

Despite the home's disruption to the theme and purpose of the park, some locals think it still has value.

"It's such a small piece of property with such an important house on it," Moon said. "I think if the park recognizes that the public really wants to save it, there's a chance."

Email Alexandra Farmer at afarmer@timesfreepress.com.

The former Hardy home sits atop Lookout Mountain within the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. (Contributed photo)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.