11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Chattanooga State Office Building

  • Constructed: 1950
  • Location: Chattanooga, TN

The Chattanooga State Office Building was constructed in 1950 in the Art Moderne style to serve as headquarters for the Interstate Life Insurance company. Its exterior features ruby granite and grayish-white limestone and a bronze frieze that is said to represent the sturdy mountain character of southeast Tennesseans. Its interior reflected “Mad Men”-era workplace innovation, with a penthouse lounge and basement bowling alley for employees.

Facade of the building

“Chattanooga has a real gem in this midcentury beauty. The reuse of the State Office Building into a dormitory would be a win-win.”

Stephanie Meeks

“Chattanooga has a real gem in this midcentury beauty,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The reuse of the State Office Building into a dormitory would be a win-win. The city has done a tremendous job of capitalizing on its natural and historic resources to revitalize its image and its economy. By adapting the State Office Building rather than demolishing it, UTC has an opportunity to make a strong statement about its commitment to the city of Chattanooga.”

Today, the building is a showpiece in Chattanooga’s downtown that represents the past strength of the insurance industry in the city, as well the innovations that were taking place in the workplace in the 1950s. The state of Tennessee acquired the building in 1981 and transferred it to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in December 2013. Rather than making building repairs and upgrades, UTC plans to demolish it. This needless demolition would destroy a midcentury landmark in the heart of the city.

The Chattanooga State Office Building was included on the Trust's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list for 2014.

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