More About R.H. Hunt, and an Art Deco Delight

Yesterday, I showed just a few of the Mississippi gems designed by Chattanooga architect R.H. Hunt during his 40-year career beginning in the 1890s. To end the week on a high note, here are a few of the Hunt buildings I found in downtown Chattanooga, in the space of an hour’s walk.

I was guided by a new book, just out, entitled R.H. Hunt: Master Architect of Chattanooga by Gavin Townsend of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. This is the only book of any kind that I know of covering this important architect. Wikipedia at least has an entry for Hunt, unlike many Mississippi architects, but it is woefully short and doesn’t give enough attention to Hunt’s regional practice.

Townsend’s book does have the most extensive and analytical biography of Hunt I’ve seen, and he devotes a paragraph to Hunt’s Mississippi connections:

So great was the demand in Mississippi that Hunt saw fit to open a satellite office in Jackson in 1905. By 1907, in Jackson alone, the Hunt office designed the Lemon [later Noble] Hotel, the Second Baptist Church, the First Presbyterian Church, Millsaps College, the Mississippi School for the Deaf, the Merchants Bank Building, the Capital National Bank Building, and the Jones-Kennington Store. (p.17)

Oh, guess what else? I find this connection very exciting: a young N.W. Overstreet worked a summer during college for Hunt’s firm in Jackson. I think I should get extra credit for that little tidbit!

So here are some of the pictures I took in downtown Chattanooga, all of Hunt’s buildings. I admit I kind of went a little crazy in the amazing Art Deco Federal building, designed by Hunt’s firm in 1932-33. I have to say that Jackson’s Eastland Federal building (completed 1934 and designed by the Jackson firm of Hull & Malvaney), while smaller in size, holds up pretty well in comparison to Chattanooga’s. If only ours still had the operating post office like Chattanooga does.

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For all you Flickrers out there, I’ve also just created a Flickr group devoted to Hunt’s buildings, so feel free to head over there and add your pictures to the group. I’ve also started creating groups for Mississippi architects. So far we have N.W. Overstreet, Overstreet & Town, and C.H. Lindsley, but I’d like to add more soon. This is all the result of a discussion following the recent Three Round Banks post, in which we all agreed there was a need to create maps showing the buildings of our major architects. Since I don’t have the time or knowledge to actually create such maps under the auspices of MissPres, I thought a Flickr map might be an easy way to get started. Check it out and let me know what you think.



Categories: Architectural Research, Post Offices

7 replies

  1. This one looks like the new Warren County court house building here in Vicksburg. Thanks for this info. I will check into this further as well as other buildings here. good morning!!

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    • Good morning–you get the Early Bird Prize! You’re right that the Chattanooga Federal building is similar stylistically to the “new” Warren County CH–also to the Vicksburg Federal Building. I’ve never been inside the Warren County CH–every time I go by it’s closed–so I don’t know what the quality of the interior finishes is. The Vicksburg Federal building is very fine though!

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  2. I did an as-built drawing and renovation plan for the Noble Hotel in 1996…. It was just a brick shell then,…the roof was collapsed and interior barely standing. I’m pretty sure it’s since been torn down. It was on Farish Street across from the train depot.

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  3. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the facade of the Noble could be rebuilt as part of the Farish Street project?

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  4. Interesting about Overstreet. You definitely get a gold star!

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  1. Newspaper Clippings: Leflore County Courthouse (1904-05) | Preservation in Mississippi

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