CHATTANOOGA. Last July, we shared with you a project of vision in a neighborhood at the foot of Lookout Mountain called St. Elmo. A large home had fallen into great disrepair after sitting vacant for years.
Saturday, that same home with a once sagging roofline and rusted chain link fencing, was greeted by neighbors, the city’s Mayor, and bankers for a ribbon cutting ceremony. The tour took everyone by surprise, except for those who had volunteered in demolition and restoration.
Nashville Interiors will bring you a complete view of these beautiful interiors in an upcoming story and conversation with designer Laney Carter. Here’s a sneak peak from the ribbon cutting celebration.
Holding the large scissors wasn’t a banker or politician, but rather a 90-year old widow, her gray hair neatly kept in two long braids that framed her face. Andy Mendonsa invited Mildred and four other widows from the community to represent the resilience of the neighborhood, a place that has had its share of tensions, but is committed in myriad ways to avoid thoughtless ‘gentrification.’
Looking out at those who had gathered around the new Easter-basket-green sod lawn, Andy Mendonsa steps to a pine pulpit.
“This project exists to plead their case,” he said. Widows, he noted, are often invisible in growing communities such as St. Elmo, though they have great commitment and are wise leaders. Andy Medonsa is the founder of Widows Harvest, a non-profit faith-based organization that engages community year-round in repairing roofs or plumbing to help widows remain in their homes and beloved communities. He’s been at this not for years, but for decades.
The proceeds of this unique project will help support the many repair projects completed on windows homes each year through Widows Harvest.
The Wells Fargo Bank officials in attendance underscored the win-win opportunity the project brings to the community with the support of widows. Wells Fargo Bank donated the foreclosed property with the hope that the project will serve as the catalyst for further investment and rejuveniation.
The home now has a real estate sign planted near the blooming Lenten roses. The Jim Lea Team with Keller-Williams Realty serves as the listing agent. The four bedroom, four bath home is 2,757 square feet, full of great detail and original architectural features such as the curved front steps, a large bay window in the dining room, original staircase and fireplace detail, solid wood pocket doors, and the historic footprint.
We look forward to taking you inside this showcase house with a focus on interior design, but for now here’s a brief look at the volunteers and neighbors who made this vision a beautiful reality.