Unintentional time capsule discovered, reveals 150-year-old Chattanooga documents

Construction crews recently discovered historical documents during construction on the Mayfield Annex building. (Photo: Staff)

You’ve heard this story before: a contractor knocks down an unassuming wall inside an older building only to find something interesting inside.

This scenario played out recently during a “demo and build out” of two historic downtown buildings.

According to Robert Bentley, president of T.U. Parks Construction Co., the documents were discovered inside the former Mayfield Annex building at Walnut and 7th Street.

Many of the documents will be uploaded and made available to the public via Deep Zoom Chattanooga. Sam Hall, the founder of Deep Zoom, said they are currently being processed.

View the current documents here. 

The building is currently under renovation by Lamp Post Properties. It was constructed in 1907 for the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. The Chattanooga building served as Lodge 91 for the organization until 1973. An 1887 building that was home to the Chattanooga Abstract Co. was absorbed into the Mayfield Annex building.

The Elks Building was renamed the Mayfield Annex in honor of former Hamilton County Commissioner Jack Mayfield in 1983.

Bentley recognized the historic importance of the documents immediately, several which date back to as early as 1839 when Chattanooga was incorporated.

According to a Chattanoogan.com article, the documents include items related to “the Samuel Williams family, who were among the earliest Chattanooga settlers … some of the documents bear the signature of H.C. Beck, one of the founders of Title Guaranty and Trust.”

In 2014, Nooga.com did a photo walk-through of the Mayfield Annex building before renovations began. During the visit, we entered the basement of the former Title and Guaranty Trust Co./Chattanooga Abstract Co.

The photo slideshow can be viewed here. 

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Category: News