St. Elmo Historic District, Chattanooga, Tennessee for the This Old House 2013 Best Old House Neighborhoods « »

St. Elmo Historic District, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Population: 2,620 in St. Elmo; 170,136 in the city of Chattanooga
House styles: Large Folk Victorians and smaller Carpenter Gothic houses prevail, though there are also Queen Anne, Italianate, and other Victorian-era styles
Expect to pay: Houses that need work start at around $40,000; move-in ready houses top out at about $250,000

Founded during the urban exodus caused by the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, St. Elmo sits at the base of Lookout Mountain, just three and a half miles south of downtown Chattanooga. Its first residents built grand houses in various Victorian styles on large parcels of land up until about 1915; in the two decades that followed, smaller houses on smaller lots prevailed. Though its homes and buildings suffered from neglect when many residents left for the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, the neighborhood has been on an upswing. Today, owners of all ages and walks of life are restoring historic houses to their original splendor, and small businesses have been emerging in the commercial district built around the intersection of St. Elmo and Tennessee Avenues. Residents are eagerly anticipating the extension of the Tennessee Riverwalk to the area for the first time; this popular walking and biking trail runs through the city's center, following the same path as the Tennessee River. And for serious outdoor enthusiasts, the network of trails on Lookout Mountain lets you get a healthy dose of exercise while taking in the panoramic views. Period houses here vary in size and price quite a bit—meaning it offers something for everybody.

Among the best for: The South, Bargains, Fixer-Uppers, Victorians, City Living, Retirees, Parks and Recreation
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