St. Elmo, nestled at the foot of Lookout Mountain, is one of Chattanooga’s oldest suburbs and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded during the exodus from Chattanooga proper during the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, St. Elmo remained an independent municipality for many years before being incorporated into the city of Chattanooga in 1929. While at the turn of the century St. Elmo was a vibrant community, marked by burgeoning commerce and residential life, it fell into a state of disrepair by the 1970s.
Over the past few decades, however, an interest in revitalizing the community has taken root. Historic houses are being restored to their original splendor, and small businesses thrive in the commercial district. As part of the renewal movement, the Chattanooga Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency drafted a St. Elmo Community Plan in 2001 in an effort to establish the direction and vision for the historic district. According to the plan:
The goal for the St. Elmo community is to create and maintain a vibrant neighborhood in which residents of different ages as well as various racial, social, and economic backgrounds can live together in harmony, appreciating and enjoying each other’s differences as well as commonalties. It is the community’s ambition to make St. Elmo a neighborhood where people desire to live and visit.
Due to the efforts of St. Elmo’s greatest strength – its people – great strides have been made toward seeing this plan become a reality. From a community built playground to public art, the St. Elmo community is made up of individuals who understand the impact of working together toward a common goal and what can be accomplished with a little vision.