The Caleb Isbester House

Chattanooga, TN

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Exterior Building Repairs project included the historic restoration of one of Chattanooga’s most beautiful Victorian Queen-Anne style house. Built in 1896, the Caleb Isbester House is located at the corner of Oak and Douglas Street, in the heart of UTC’s present day campus. The house was named for Caleb Isbester, co-founder of the United States Pipe and Foundry, one of Chattanooga’s oldest manufacturing establishments. The house was placed on the Nation Register of Historic Places in 1982 and in 2011, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga acquired the building. It is currently used by the University as offices.

The house had undergone several minor renovations in the past, but Tinker Ma worked diligently to preserve and restore as many of the houses’ century-old details as possible. This included rebuilding much of the structure and the intricate carpentry at the two story front porch as well as restoring many of the beautiful masonry qualities of the house, such as the locally quaried limestone foundation walls, and the original brick walls capped with limestone cross gables and carved with low relief sculpture in the Chateauesque style. The house also featured the original fluted cast iron columns with foliated capitals, quarter-sawn oak windows, and a steeply pitched hip-roof culminating at the typical Queen Anne turret with original fish-scale slate shingles and torch-like finial.

Tinker Ma has enjoyed the opportunity to work with J&J Contractors and their talented team of craftsmen and subcontractors to restore and preserve this important piece of Chattanooga’s history.


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