Finding Ways to Keep History Alive

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This story was originally published in the June/July 2015 issue of Chattanooga Magazine.

Cornerstones Director Ann Gray shows off a framed panoramic photo of Engel Stadium in its heyday.

Cornerstones Director Ann Gray shows off a framed panoramic photo of Engel Stadium in its heyday.

A new partnership between The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga [ℹ️ City Guide] and The Engel Foundation is designed to bring new life to the historic stadium.

Recently, officials from UTC and the Engel Foundation signed an agreement that could make the facility available for UTC student and community use as early as this fall for some activities.

“Instead of being simply an artifact that no one is allowed to touch or use, through adaptive reuse, Engel Stadium will become a living and breathing place again, poised to be enjoyed, not only by those who cherish the old memories made here, but by those young people who will make
their own memories,” says Engel Foundation Chair, Becky Browder.

Plans call for an expansion of UTC’s intramural complex on the site and to make the new facility available for use by the surrounding community. The facility could also contain exhibits that commemorate the history of the stadium. The field could also be used for other events, such
as concerts.

“When the city and the county conveyed this property to UTC, they told us to work collaboratively to keep this stadium as a cultural and recreational asset for the community. They wanted us to celebrate the history that made Engel Stadium a vital part of Chattanooga’s story,” says UTC Executive Vice Chancellor of Operations, Richard Brown. “And they told us to make sure that baseball would always be able to be played at Engel Stadium. This new plan does all these.”

Architect and UTC adjunct professor, Andy Smith will work with students to study adaptive reuse of the facility.

Architect and UTC adjunct professor, Andy Smith will work with students to study adaptive reuse of the facility.

Van West, state historian and director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, discussed the importance of historic preservation and how adaptive reuse can be used to introduce new uses to an older facility while honoring the history.

“We need to keep history at the forefront of what it means to be a Tennessean,” says West. “And Chattanooga is doing that better than any other city in the state.”

During its heyday, Engel Stadium hosted such baseball legends as Harmon Killebrew, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Babe Ruth. Several years ago, the stadium received some significant capital improvements when part of the film “42” was shot on location at Engel, but the facility is still in need of renovations and updating. University and Engel Foundation officials will seek to raise private funds and use student activity fees to make some of the renovations necessary to ready the facility for student use.

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