Residents Urged To Use Caution As Heavy Rains Bring Flash Flood Warning

John Shearer: Seeing New Green Space And Building At Baylor

Monday, August 13, 2018 - by John Shearer

In recent years, I have occasionally enjoyed taking a jog at my alma mater of Baylor School during school vacation times or weekends to reminisce a little and enjoy again the pretty campus I love by the Tennessee River.


But late Friday afternoon when I was over there before the onslaught of students, I wanted to see something new – the former quadrangle/quad area, which has now been converted from asphalt to a landscaped green space.


In other words, the Big Red has become a little more green.


I had read about the work and actually saw it in the very beginning stages a few weeks ago, but this was my first time to examine it since the sod had been put down in recent days.


So I had a different feeling of new excitement as I climbed the same hill I once had as a young Baylor camper and later student to look at it. And while it will likely be landscaped even further down the road based on drawings, the sod and brick crossing walkways looked nice. And it was a definite change from the previous site.


I am not sure if it is intentional, but the curved brick walkway also makes the part of the green space closest to the flagpole on the southwest end look like the shield-like Baylor logo that has begun being used in recent years.


The overall work is also somewhat similar to what was done a few years ago to one side of the landmark Ayres Hall at UT-Knoxville, where a parking lot was replaced with green space. And the University of Georgia’s old early football field – Herty Field – was also landscaped in recent years on the Old Campus part of the school after being a parking lot for a number of years.


But the green space at Baylor is not all that is changing for the quad. At the northeast end, where old Trustee Hall – a building I admired -- once sat, a nice and sleek new building is nearing completion. It mirrors the traditional look of the mostly Collegiate Gothic Baylor buildings and even has the cornerstone and other adornments from old Trustee, which I hated to see razed. But the new building also has some modern glass enhancements, too.


Currently called simply the Academic Center and costing $14 million, it will be one of the larger academic buildings on campus and will feature another access area up the hill from the east side of campus near the athletic structures. It is to be finished by next month, and I look forward to possibly getting to examine the inside on Alumni Weekend in mid-October.


As a member of the Baylor class of 1978 getting ready to celebrate my 40th reunion this fall, I am also proud to say that fellow classmates Ryan Crimmins, Jeff Morgan and Scott Smith are playing varying leadership roles in all the work. And our class has also helped donate to the green space.


Of course, Baylor is not alone in trying to improve its campus. I happened to be over at rival McCallie School on Saturday morning for the Missionary Ridge Road Race, and I noticed they had cleared a couple of lots near Dodds Avenue as part of their own campus enhancement work.


Good for them, although this lover of old buildings and homes hopes no historically significant structures were torn down in the process.


The Baylor green space work, which is costing $1.1 million, will no doubt be quite different from how that space was once used. Now students or staff might be tempted to sit and briefly rest there, or maybe have an outdoor class. But in the old days, that would of course not been likely.


The roughly 40-yard-by-25-yard tract actually came into existence in its more recent form in 1937, I learned for the first time by looking at former teacher Jim Hitt’s 1971 Baylor history book, “It Never Rains After Three O’clock.”


He wrote that during that summer, an old rough asphalt circle that had been there near Hunter Hall was widened, shrubbery was moved back, and the hilltop was leveled.


Also, the flagpole, which had formerly been at ground level and was closer to where the current academic center is being built, was moved 30 yards back toward the old brick tower, and steps were built near it.


“The setting was arranged so that cadets (when the school was an all-boys military academy) might gather around the flagpole in a semicircle for pep meetings, ‘bull sessions,’ etc.,” Mr. Hitt wrote.


In 2018, the area around the flagpole is also being restored as part of the green space work.


Mr. Hitt added that the quadrangle area was initially gravel in 1937 but later was paved with asphalt. It basically remained that way until this year.


Despite its stark and plain look over the years, though, the asphalt quad managed to find its way into quite a bit of Baylor history. The military cadets would gather up there for drilling for decades until the military curriculum was dropped after 1971, and a number of pep rallies and other student gatherings were also held there.


I remember standing out there one cold day as an eighth-grader in early 1974 when football coach E.B. “Red” Etter hoisted up the trophy Baylor had won for being declared national high school football champions in one poll.


Since it was an obvious inexact poll, I remember coach Etter joking to the students and faculty in his wry manner, “Deserve it or not, we will gladly accept it,” or something along those lines.


Pep rallies had also been held there as well as music dances. The most famous music event held there was probably when Lynyrd Skynyrd – yes that Lynyrd Skynyrd – played at the Baylor commencement dance in 1973 before becoming famous.


I also remember sprinting across the quadrangle on countless occasions after a late morning class to get in the usually long line for food at Guerry Hall at lunchtime.


Plenty of new – and different -- memories are likely to be made on the site for current and future students, too.


In fact, despite the fact that the school is blessed – and no doubt thankful -- to have plenty of green space on its large campus, this tiny tract should still be kind of a crown jewel.

Center For Creative Arts Hosts 18th Annual Chattanooga Dances!

The 18th annual Chattanooga Dances! concert will be presented in the Center for Creative Arts Auditorium Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. The concert highlights the city’s non-profit dance organizations, along with those schools that maintain a full dance curriculum. Companies appearing on this year’s concert will be Ballet Tennessee, Barger Academy’s Movement Makers, Baylor’s Verve, ... (click for more)

The Annual Sandy Erickson Race For Christian Education Benefits Students And ALS

The Greater Collegedale School System began a 5K and Kids Fun Run seven years ago, in honor of Sandy Erickson, a teacher who taught first grade for over 20 years at A.W. Spalding Elementary School. "Mrs. Erickson cared deeply for each of her students, working one-on-one to enhance their success. When diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), she kept her cheery attitude and ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Under Flash Flood Warning As Heavy Rains Continue

Heavy rains throughout Monday brought water over many Hamilton County roads and into some businesses. The front area of the Mapco in the 8100 block of Standifer Gap Road was a small lake. The Sheriff's Office said, "Drivers in the Middle Valley and East Brainerd Road areas are encouraged to avoid driving in low lying areas. All drivers should exercise caution. "Drivers ... (click for more)

Mountain City Club Considering Sale Of Downtown Club To Developer Defoor

Officials of the Mountain City Club are considering sale of the property at Eighth and Chestnut to a developer. Dan Saieed, club president, said the board was approached by developer Byron Defoor with an offer for the property. He said the club is facing declining membership and extreme  financial issues so is considering the offer. The Defoor group developed the nearby ... (click for more)

Why I'm Voting Republican And So Should You

For much of my life, the commitment to the Democratic Party has puzzled me. I was raised to analyze both sides of issues and to make an intelligent decision based upon that information. The values of self-reliance, hard work, and individual liberty that I grew up with were the same American values that have made this country exceptional. As I have grown older, I have witnessed ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UT’s Genius Stroke

If all goes as (very carefully) planned, the most dynamic president to be hired at the University of Tennessee since the legendary Andy Holt retired in 1970, will be ushered into office today by the university’s board of trustees. The selection of Randy Boyd to take over his ala mater is a genius stroke and certainly seems to solidify two of life’s greatest truths. The first ... (click for more)