John Shearer: Baylor School Finds Forgotten Time Capsule During Trustee Hall Razing

Monday, July 17, 2017 - by John Shearer

Baylor School this summer has said goodbye to Trustee Hall, the former classroom, dorm and faculty apartment building that had opened on the north end of the school’s hilltop quadrangle in the winter of 1936-37.


In recent days, the structure designed by the noted Atlanta architectural firm of Pringle and Smith was torn down, joining the smaller infirmary and Bradford Hall as about the only structures ever razed on the 102-year-old campus.



In the process of the demolition to make way for a new $13 million academic center and surrounding updates, the school also said hello to – or at least renewed an acquaintance with -- a long-forgotten aspect of Trustee Hall: a time capsule.


To the left of the entranceway of the building as one faced the structure sat a copper box that contained a few old mementoes of the time when Trustee was built. A few old-timers and longtime school officials were familiar with it – and it is detailed in one Baylor history book – but to many the discovery on June 29 came as a pleasant surprise.


Among the latter group was Baylor School director of external affairs Barbara Kennedy, who has worked at the school nearly two decades.


“I wasn’t aware it existed, and I got a call from (school physical plant maintenance foreman) Howard Johnson,” she said. “He called me and said he had something he wanted to show me. He had a copper box.”


Since she had also been involved when the school opened a Lupton Hall copper box time capsule as part of the100-year celebration at the current campus during the 2015-16 year, she knew what that was.


In recent days, she has been familiarizing herself with this time capsule, too. Found inside it were a Bible; a 1935 Walking Liberty silver half dollar; some typed pages listing the board of trustees, faculty and students at Baylor; and some now-yellowed front pages of the three Chattanooga newspapers that were publishing in town on the day of the dedication – Oct. 1, 1937.


The papers – the Chattanooga Daily Times, the Chattanooga News and Roy McDonald’s fledgling Chattanooga Free Press – are full of news, but little that seems to have had any lasting significance today.


One “bandit” was admitting his crime before City Court Judge Martin Fleming, while one photographic layout and accompanying caption described actress Betty Grable’s physical attractiveness. Such mention in a family newspaper today would likely be considered a little too sexist by today’s journalistic standards, unless it was referencing comments on social media.


Possibly more interesting and seemingly more lasting than the items in the newspapers were the typed lists of trustees, administrators, teachers, and students attached to a slightly rusty paper clip.


The front page listed the trustees and said, “This building, Trustees Hall, is a donation from the Baylor School trustees to the school.”


The building over the years actually became known as Trustee Hall.


Listed as trustees were Cartter Lupton, Edward Finley, J.C. Guild Jr., Scott L. Probasco, Phil Whitaker, Charles Coffey, Summerfield K. Johnston, then-former headmaster Alex Guerry, and George T. Hunter.


How much each trustee donated to the building’s construction is apparently lost to time, but it is known that Cartter Lupton, whose name is mentioned first, was a major school benefactor during this time period. He was one of three successful Coca-Cola bottlers on the school’s board, with Mr. Johnston and Mr. Hunter being the others.


It also seemed a little unusual that a building was named collectively after a group of school officials, instead of an individual or family. What seems lost to time is how that name was decided upon.


On the page listing school officials, the roughly 20-25 faculty and administrators are mentioned. Besides headmaster Herb Barks Sr. and such longtime teachers and coaches as Jim Rike, J.A. Pennington and Humphrey “Humpy” Heywood, a few names less familiar to Baylor alumni and supporters also jump out to a reader.


They include instructors Bartlett Engram and Thad Petruska, each of whom did not stay at Baylor long. Carl Scheibe was in the first of 13 years as the director of the glee club singing group, while pioneering woman Katherine Trimble was the librarian.


A look at the late former teacher Jim Hitt’s history book, “It Never Rains After Three O’clock” reveals that Ms. Trimble was the first fulltime librarian at the school. Ms. Trimble was apparently well traveled and had remarked to school officials at some point that Baylor had a prettier campus than the famed Cornell University in New York.


Another teacher was W.H. Masterson Jr., who would go on to become the University of Chattanooga president and UTC chancellor.


All the students – roughly 180-190 – are also mentioned. Familiar names include future Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge, future automobile dealer Lawrence Doster, and now-retired Chattanooga businessman John Guerry.


Besides the day students from Chattanooga and the dorm students from surrounding states, the hometowns for some students at the all-male military school included Miami, Denver, Albany, N.Y., and Rocky River, Ohio.


There were also two boarders from well south of the border – Edward Burdett from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Jose Falconi from Quito, Ecuador.


According to Mr. Hitt’s book, the Oct. 1, 1937, cornerstone laying ceremony that included the placing of the time capsule occurred after the building had been constructed and opened. The ceremony started with a chapel talk by headmaster Mr. Barks, who recounted the school’s history and physical plant development.


Then the boys marched outside for the official ceremony at Trustee Hall.


Mr. Barks then made a comment that has significance today and this summer. He said, “Some day this building may be torn down by something unforeseen, but in the cornerstone will be a record of what this institution stands for and will continue to stand for.”


Ms. Kennedy, who said the supervisors of this summer’s demolition were aware of the time capsule and were careful to save it, added that the copper box is scheduled to be given to the library for the school archives.


“It might be something that when the kids come back in the fall, they can do a (Baylor) ‘Notes’ story on it or it can be displayed,” she said.     


As a result, this copper box featuring a silver half dollar might end up being as valuable as gold to the school from a historical standpoint.


* * *


To see a time-lapse video of the Trustee Hall demolition produced by Baylor School, watch here:

Portion Of Ringgold Road Down To One Lane This Afternoon

The East Ridge Police Department wants the public to be aware that Ringgold Road from Mack Smith Road to just past the I-75 interchange is down to one lane in each directions due to constructions. Citizens will want to find alternate routes where possible to avoid delays. The lane closures will be in effect until approximately 5 p.m. today.  (click for more)

International Brotherhood Of Police Officers Local Endorses Hammond For Sheriff

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local #673 has announced its endorsement of Sheriff Jim Hammond. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County area IBPO issued the following statement after unanimous board approval: “The International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local #673 is happy to announce its endorsement of Jim Hammond for Hamilton County Sheriff. During his ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Chickamauga Lock Construction Fully Funded For 4th Consecutive Year

Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday said the government funding bill will fully fund construction of Chickamauga Lock for the fourth consecutive year, providing up to $78 million – which is more than twice the amount of funding the project received last year.   Senator Alexander said he has made completion of Chickamauga Lock one of his top priorities as chairman ... (click for more)

Former Juvenile Court Magistrate Says Gay Marriage Is "Nothing You Put In Air Quotes"

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court, who claims she was fired by Judge Rob Philyaw because she is openly gay, said Wednesday that gay marriage "is nothing you put in air quotes." She referred to County Attorney Rheubin Taylor asking her about her ceremony in marrying another woman and raising his hands to form quote marks. Elizabeth Gentzler is suing Hamilton County, Judge ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)