Littleholme was built in 1928 by Mrs. Ethel Soper Hardy. Mrs. Hardy was the widow of once popular Mayor of Chattanooga Richard Hardy, who also was a former educator, local industrialist, and philanthropist. As directed by her husband’s will, monies were specifically earmarked for his wife to build her dream house wherever she desired. She chose to move from New York City back to the circa. 1890s wooden cottage they owned adjacent to the southern border of the Cravens House on Shingle Road, demolishing the tired structure for new cement block construction. The couple had purchased to the 1890s cottage called Littleholme from the Loder family in about 1910 and maintained the home up until Richard Hardy’s sudden death on August 14th, 1927.
Design of the Storybook Tudor Revival home was executed by local and noted architect Clarence T. Jones. No doubt the storybook theme was influenced by homes being built at the same time on Lookout Mountain in Fairyland and its design follows a very distinctive style indicative of Lookout Mountain in the late 1920s. Jones has designed several commercial buildings in Chattanooga, including the National Guard Armory on Holtzclaw Avenue, the Clarence T. Jones Observatory, now owned by UTC, and the Industrial YMCA on the south side of Chattanooga off of Main Street. All are on the National Historic Register. Littleholme is one of the few documented residential examples designed by Jones that have survived and is eligible for the National Register.
Littleholme is also one of the few surviving structures of the Craven Terrace Colony, the area around and below the Cravens House where local successful industrialists settled and built their full-time residences during the turn of the 20th century. Surrounding homes like the Cravens-Coleman House and most recently from its nearly condemned state, Gray Rocks have been privately restored.
Other than architectural elements that the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is said to remove, Littleholme remains mostly how it did in the 1920s with little alteration.
Although Richard Hardy was an accomplished businessman, Mrs. Hardy was very socially engaged with community activism throughout her time in Chattanooga. She founded and endowed the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga in 1910, which still exists today, and was an active proponent of the protection and wellness of animals and children in Hamilton County. The Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga was the first local organization to apply legal consequences to child abusers, leveraging animal cruelty laws to prosecute early offenders. Mrs. Hardy was also the first deputized woman in Hamilton County and carried a firearm with the legal authority to humanely put down animals who had sustained terminal injuries.
The couple had no children of their own but financially supported at least one hundred boys through college, some on full scholarships.
Mrs. Hardy also was hands-on during the first World War, raising tens of thousands of dollars locally and nationally towards the medical treatment of service animals overseas and on the front lines. She also trained budding veterinarian recruits at Camp Greenleaf in Ft. Oglethorpe.
Mrs. Hardy would spend the rest of her life at Littleholme, caring for stray animals until her death in 1944.
The Williams family moved into the home by the late 1940s and spent over 60 years at Littleholme until the National Park Service acquired the home in 2001 with an initial plan to turn it into a visitor center. Those plans changed in 2013 when it was announced the structures would be demolished for new parking.
Although Park Superintendent Brad Bennett has publicly stated that he recognizes the local historical importance of Littleholme, it doesn’t fit the Battle of Chickamauga narrative or Park’s mission. As a citizen, and local historians, we have to remind him he’s employed by the agency that administers the National Register of Historic Places and he has an obligation to preserve significant properties, even beyond the purview of their mission. In fact, the Park does preserve structures on their property that does not fit a Civil War timeline.
In the 1950s the post Civil War Cravens House was to be demolished by the Park Service, but a few private individuals stepped up and oversaw its successful restoration with private funds. Since then, other restoration work was completed with private funds.
We recognize the National Park is millions behind in repairs and upkeep costs and they need to prioritize projects. We have always suggested a vetted third-party option to lease the property and raise money to make necessary repairs and cover future maintenance costs. It would take an Act of Congress, literally, to sell the property, but the National Park Service allows up to a sixty-year lease to private entities. All we want is for the Superintendent to offer that option to save this local landmark. There are now two local preservation organizations that could help guide the process and find a credible leaseholder who can create a sustainable plan for Littleholme’s future.
Most recently, the McGlashan-Nickerson House in Calais, ME was given a reprieve under the nearly exact circumstances as Littleholme. It just took the decision of the Superintendent to work with local historians to create that opportunity.
Littleholme’s plot is a little over a quarter of an acre and is very insignificant in comparison to the thousands of acres that the Park Service owns, situated on the edge of the Park’s boundaries. A private residence has been there since the early 1890s in that same footprint and is part of the greater story of the Park, Cravens Terrace Colony, and Lookout Mountain and we see its preservation and place as being paramount. Also, Mrs. Hardy’s lasting contributions to her adopted city is also an overlooked part of Chattanooga’s diverse history and herstory. Demolition of the house she built greatly diminishes her legacy.
The Hardy’s moved to Lookout Mountian into the Loder House on the same property in 1910. Mr. Richard Hardy was an Industrialist and the President of the Dixie Portland Cement Company in South Pittsburg, TN. He also served three years as Mayor of Chattanooga. Mrs. Hardy founded the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga in 1910 and was an active proponent of animals and rights for minors. The couple had no children of their own but financially supported at least one hundred boys through college, some on full scholarships. Mrs. Hardy tore down the Loder House to build Littleholme after her husband’s sudden death in 1927. She would spend the rest of her life at the cottage, caring for stray animals until her death in 1944.
The Williams family moved into the home by the late 1940s and spent over 60 years at Littleholme until the National Park Service acquired the home in 2001.
The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park plans to tear down the house in a plan to add parking and restore the surrounding property to its 1863 landscape. Littleholme is not considered a contributing structure to the property’s Civil War history.
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