February 23, 2019
Chattanooga's Master Architect
You might not have known his name but you no doubt have seen his work.
Reuben Harrison Hunt, the master architect of Chattanooga is responsible for designing the most historic and iconic building in the Scenic City.
Hunt, a Civil War veteran, was originally from Elbert County, Georgia. He moved to Chattanooga in 1882 and joined firm of Adams Brothers, building contractors. While he worked initially as a carpenter for day wages, he learned how to read plans and coordinate a team of builders. He also studied architecture at night, borrowing and purchasing trade books as he could. By 1886 Hunt had accumulated the resources on contacts necessary to start his own practice in Chattanooga.
By 1907 Hunt was able to list among his references no fewer than sixty churches, five hotels, twenty-eight schools, twelve courthouses, five municipal buildings and twenty-two commercial buildings throughout the south. In addition to his beautiful designs, Hunt was recognized for his ability to construct 'fireproof' buildings.
In many instances, Hunt charged nothing for his design services for small church congregations.
His last major commission was the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building. For that project, he was partnered with the famous New York firm of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, architects of the Empire State Building. Many of the decorative motifs throughout the building are similar to those found on the famous skyscraper.
Hunt was responsible for nearly 40 buildings in Chattanooga proper.
First Baptist Church (lost)
Second Presbyterian Church
Erlanger Hospital (lost)
Women's Christian Temperance Union
Miller Brothers Building
Central Baptist Church (lost)
Chattanooga Public Library (Carnegie Library)
Chattanooga High School (lost)
Engine House No. 5 (lost)
Pound Building (Chattanooga News Building)
Chattanooga Electric Railway Company Barn Building
Central High School (lost)
Chattanooga Municipal Building (City Hall)
Central YMCA Building (lost)
Hamilton National Bank (First Tennessee Bank)
Highland Park Baptist Church
Hamilton County Courthouse
Ellis Hotel (St. John's Restaurant)
Park Hotel (Newell Towers)
Northside Presbyterian Church
Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Auditorium
Wyatt Hall (CSAS)
The Bright School (lost)
With the completion of the Federal Courthouse in 1933 Hunt retired and left to work for the new Tennessee Valley Authority.