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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Rock City Gardens
Reference Number 14000619
State Georgia
County Walker
Town Lookout Mountain
Street Address 1400 Patton Road
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 9/17/2014
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"Initially developed by Frieda Utermoehlen Carter {1880-1964) and her husband, Garnet Carter {1883-1954), Rock City Gardens was opened to the public on May 21, 1932. The setting consists of unusual geological landforms atop Lookout Mountain, which have drawn curious onlookers since the mid-19th century. The Carters transformed the site into an elaborately designed rock garden with pathways, bridges, vegetation, overlooks, and visitor facilities. Rock City Gardens is significant under Criterion A at the statewide level in the areas of entertainmenUrecreation and commerce as a notable popular tourist attraction. Seeking to capitalize on the growing trend of automobile tourism in the United States during the mid-20th century, Garnet Carter embarked on an extensive and innovative roadside advertising campaign between the 1930s and 1960s that included slogans painted on the rooftops of over 800 barns along roads and highways enticing the traveling public to ""See Rock City."" In the area of landscape architecture under Criterion C, Rock City Gardens is significant at the statewide level as a unique example of a vernacular design-enhanced landscape. Created by Frieda Carter as an informal rock garden and walking trail, the property integrates the dramatic stone formations and topography of Lookout Mountain with stone hardscape features, native woodland vegetation, scenic vistas, and fanciful statuary. In 1933, the Garden Club of America recognized Frieda Carter for her landscape work with the Horticultural Bronze Medal of Distinction. In the area of architecture under Criterion C, Rock City Gardens is locally significant for its collection of architect-designed commercial and residential buildings. Chattanooga-based architect William Hatfield Sears {1875-1951) designed the 1928 Tudor Revivalstyle Grandview estate that was built for Peyton Carter, Garnet Carter's uncle. Sears practiced in Georgia and Tennessee and was also the architect for the nearby Lookout Mountain Fairyland Club {1924), which was listed in the National Register in 1990. Architect Halbert Grant Law {1909-1981 ), of the Chattanooga firm Crutchfield and Law, is credited with the design of many of the other notable buildings at Rock City. These buildings generally share uncoursed, local sandstone ashlar construction."

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria