The iconic ℹ️ Chattanooga Choo Choo is the center of attention once more. ℹ️ Cornerstones, Inc., Chattanooga’s premier historic preservation organization, is embarking on a capital campaign to restore the Terminal Station Dome of the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The campaign will expand opportunities for the vintage hotel and for international, national and local visitors. Owner Adam Kinsey has also created space for Cornerstones staff offices to be within the Terminal Station.
“The challenge is to make the Dome, built from 1907-1909, a very unique public space—as it once was,” says Ann Gray, executive director of Cornerstones. Short of a full restoration, which would be an engineering feat, she adds. “It will definitely get some love.” The hotel desk will remain and the ℹ️ Trolley venue will remain, both rent-paying customers.
“The National Trust for Historic Preservation will help us with planning the space and some local architects and planners may be involved,” she says. “I’m afraid we’ve taken this iconic structure for granted.”
The entire block where the Choo-Choo stands is on the National Register of Historic Places. That includes buildings like ℹ️ The Terminal Brew House, the buildings housing ℹ️Chattanooga Whiskey and ℹ️ The Hot Chocolatier and the dormant hulk of the St. George Hotel.
Recently, the Chattanooga Choo Choo made a list that includes international landmarks—world icons, really. Global e-commerce company Booking.com named the local hotel to its “Book the US” list, along with properties like New York City’s Empire State Building.
“We are excited to be a part of such an exclusive short list of special places to stay or visit,” says Kinsey. “The Chattanooga Choo Choo is a great community asset.”
This local landmark is a property area residents see as a part of their cultural history, and claim it as their own when they travel and when they show off the city to friends and family. It’s an important block of buildings to save, according to Gray. (Go to cornerstonesinc.org to donate.)
Saving important places is what Cornerstones is about and the nonprofit has spent the last 23 years producing ℹ️ Wine Over Water, a popular wine-tasting fundraiser aimed at protecting the city’s most unique landmarks. ℹ️ The Walnut Street Bridge, where it is held, is one of the world’s longest bridges. Built in 1890, it is one of the first and finest examples of the city’s successful preservation efforts.
Wine Over Water 2018 takes place on October 6, from 5-8 p.m. with over 100 world wineries represented and—this year the wines and food are included in one ticket!
“We’re fortunate to have created an event that has lasted so long,” says Gray. Remarkably, the success of the organization in saving historic structures has created opportunity in expanding the Wine Over Water (WOW) ticketed culinary fest into fresh related “off the bridge” events, complete with live music and a host of new sponsors.
These culinary spin-offs will take place in some of the very buildings the nonprofit has been instrumental in repurposing. WOW weekend kicks off with a welcome party at ℹ️ Easy Bistro featuring James Beard semi-finalist ℹ️ Chef Erik Niel and sponsored by Atlantic Capital. The restaurant is in a building that once housed the first Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
On Friday, the MLK Beer & Bites party really stretches the offerings, hosted in the ℹ️ 2 Sons parking lot and featuring ℹ️ Hutton & Smith beers. On Saturday, a luncheon at ℹ️ The Dwell Hotel prior to the Bridge event and a wine dinner following at the ℹ️ St. John’s Restaurant with ℹ️ Chef Rebecca Barron presiding, complete the day. Harry Phillips refurbished the original hotel and architect Thomas Johnson restored the St. John’s building in the early 1990s.
The Sunday finale includes a yoga brunch at ℹ️ Feed Table & Tavern that brings together unusual partnering sponsors like ℹ️ green|spaces, Moet Hennessy, Revive and lululemon. The Daily Ration, a repurposed gas station in North Chattanooga, will be the scene for a Sunday supper sponsored by ℹ️ Lodge Cast Iron. It showcases craft cocktails by Chattanooga Whiskey, a family style dinner by Chef Jason Bowers, wines from the Willamette Valley Winery and music by the Randy Steele Trio. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit Cornerstones, Inc. and its historic preservation efforts in Chattanooga.
For details and additional information go to wineoverwater.org