Friday, January 8, 2016


Time to close out the holiday season so we can move on to the New Year. We closed out the year with the week between Christmas and New Year spent in Tennessee where the weather soared to the mid-seventies, the grass was emerald green and all but this one Christmas tree was made of plastic.
Chattanooga remains a city that has transformed itself into a major cultural hub for the South. Every time we get a chance to visit there are a couple of sites that are mandatory stops no matter how short our time on the banks of the Tennessee River. The holidays and the requisite required family affairs didn't leave for a lot of free time but we still managed to hit the Hunter Art Museum and our favorite shopping space, Warehouse Row. We've written about these two attractions before but I can't help repeating the travelogue because each time we come and the tour the experience is different.
For years the Hunter Museum of American Art remained a little collection of regional works and Hudson River School paintings exhibited in a classical revival mansion perched on a cliff overlooking downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee River. For almost fifty years beginning in 1952 when the Hunter opened the museum's biggest draw was less the collection but its Christmas tree display that attracted locals to the mansion on the hill.
In 2002 the museum partnered with the city of Chattanooga expanding the museum with an addition designed by the architect, Randall Stout.
This raised the museum's visibility to where it is now considered to contain one of the most extensive collections of American art in the Southeast.

I love roaming the rooms of the new addition with its collection of works by such art world icons as Thomas Hart Benton, Robert Rauschenberg, Mary Cassatt and Frank Stella.
There is also an extensive collection of pottery, tabletop and glassware but a large part of its attraction is the building itself.
From the old world charm of the 1904 mansion
to the award winning metal cladding of the exterior of the new addition
to the beautiful simplicity of the interior exhibition halls it remains a must for us every time we travel to Chattanooga.
Warehouse Row has had a very up and down history ever since its original repurposing in the 1980's. I've envied the industrial heritage of Chattanooga ever since we started coming here. The architectural history that industry has left to cities like Chattanooga is something we Madisonians have missed out on.
The Warehouse started out as a high-end outlet mall that slowly sank into disuse with the fall of the economy. In 2006 the buildings were purchased by a development company, the Jamestown group, and reinvigorated into what they have labeled: a community retail concept.
They employed the same kind of attention to the architecture's humble grandeur that can be seen in other Jamestown properties like Chelsea Market in New York City and with this a new success story has been written in Chattanooga.
Jamestown's attention to incorporating the manufacturing style of the building into its public areas goes way beyond any mall you'll see across the rest of America.
There is a high style projected through out the building utilizing industrial materials in ingenious ways: recycled metal sheets as wallcovering and then bent into cones as a lighting pendant.
A huge nautical rope suspends a chandelier made from leather straps, a metal barrel rim and Edison light bulbs.
Even the painted floors in black and white stripes are integrated in a way that reflects the retail stores that line a part of the interior.
The shops that have now taken up residence all qualify as unique boutiques. The only chains posting a storefront are Anthropologie and J. Crew yet both seem right in place here.
Even though there wasn't a bookstore on board many of the shops used books as an adjunct to their blend of products. Some of my favorites were published by one of the South's most famous magazines, Garden&Gun.
Who could resist a copy of The Southerner's Handbook, A guide to Living the Good Life.
We once again crossed the threshold at Revival, one of the best-orchestrated home design stores anywhere in the U.S.
Their product mix of furniture and accessories both vintage and new is amazing.
There are exceptional pieces left to stand on their own,
small vignettes of collected memory pieces
and areas set up to replicate rooms showing customers how they can mix pieces together to get the Revival look.
It's impossible to walk through Revival with Billy, one of the owners, and not be inspired. As I mentioned in the introduction this is not the first time we've done a blog on Revival and my guess is it won't be the last.
If you find yourself in Chattanooga or even near it stopping by Revival and Warehouse Row is worth a stop and don't forget it has one of the South's best regional restaurants, Tupelo Honey, for some fresh, scratch-made southern comfort food.
On our way back to Wisconsin we had scheduled a New Year's Day stop in Sevierville to see friends who had just moved there the past fall. Sevierville rests in the mountains where Dolly Parton grew up. On the first turn of our journey up the mountain we passed the Blowing Cave  Mill built in 1880. It was only the start of our postcard trip up the mountain.  The roads to get to our friends cabin in the sky was over some of the most heart-stopping hairpin turns I've had to drive on but the scenery was worth the damage to our collective nerves.
Having gone to the top of the mountain we could understand why our friends decided to move to Tennessee where the air is cool and fresh, although they are planning on coming back to Wisconsin once the heat sets in and the bugs get too overwhelming. Still its hard to resist this amazing natural beauty.
Robert Frank's Studio, 2011
Christopher Rauschenberg, photographer
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery


  1. All gorgeous places. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Catching up from Grand Central down. One terrific post after another.