This week, I am taking you to Chattanooga, TN and telling you about a place dear to my heart, the Industrial YMCA. The “Y,” a Spanish Revival-style structure built in 1929, is abundant with plaster casts of family crests, handpainted art deco patterns on wooden beams, and window handles forged by Chattanooga ironworkers. The terra cotta exteriors of many Chattanooga buildings were created by artisans whose skills, time and resources no longer exist. Their craftsmanship is irreplaceable. The “Y” offered basketball, badminton courts, a boxing ring, stage, trapeze equipment and a swimming pool. It offered 59 small rooms for people to stay in; that is until 1989 when its doors were closed for ten years. During that time, it was inhabited by the homeless and pigeons … lots of pigeons. A friend of mine, Jack Kruesi, purchased it in 1999 and began hundreds of hours refurbishing the building. To him, it is a labor of love because he, like a lot of other people, including me, remember vividly the good times we had there as kids. Most of the original building is still intact.
I was so grateful when Jack graciously handed over the keys to the building allowing me to spend many hours photographing it. The below photo of the wrought iron railing ended my search for something to satisfy the “Fences And/Or Rails” theme.