A lot of classic stories begin with the line. "Once upon a time". Well since the studio resides in a home built in 1899 we could actually start this story like that! The studio, located at 850 Vine Street
, is part of the Fort Wood National Historic District and was one of the first premiere neighborhoods in Chattanooga. The houses originally built in the area range from the 1885 through 1912. Some interesting highlights about the house. There has been a total of five owners. It was built by the Frist family who owned a steamboat business. They were only here a couple of years, with the next owners living in the house from 1901 until 1926. My understanding is that when the new owners took possession, one of the first things they did was enclose the screened porch and have the house stuccoed, replacing the original clapboard. One other feature they had installed in 1926 was the beautiful leaded glass doors, leading into the now finished sunroom. I have it on good authority from their grandson, that the doors were purchased in France and shipped to Chattanooga.
An interesting story, I have heard from a couple of sources, was that several famous jazz musicians stayed in this house when they were not allowed to stay at the nicer hotels because of their skin color. Several years ago, at one of our holiday open house parties, a 92 year old lady told me she used to live next door. She remembered sitting on the stone wall outside the living room, listening to jazz music waft out the windows. Evidently, there was a 9 foot grand piano in the front bay! Maybe I should have said "if these walls could sing!"
In 1994, when I was looking for a new home for the studio, I wanted something with a lot of character, an environment with the warmth and charm you seldom see in more modern construction. I had the good fortune to find and then acquire this house which has become our studio home. Having this wonderful old home allows us to create portraits with a timeless quality in a comfortable and natural setting. From the solid wood antique doors to the detailed fireplaces spread throughout the house, when used in our photographs they lend a naturalness that our clients love.
Telling stories about the house to clients and taking guests on a tour is something I enjoy. It's fun to show images created in different areas inside and outside. Everyone is always amazed to see how the elements of the house are used and become part of the finished portraits.
The character and charm of the house is part of what makes our studio so inviting. I would love to hear the stories this house could tell if these walls could talk!