There was such a ravine to the north of West Second Street at Cameron Hill that for many years no one ventured to build a house on the steep slope. The houses at that time ended at Pine Street.
It was not until 1915 that a house was erected at 401 West Second. It was not only past Pine Street, but also above Poplar and just below Cedar.
The handsome two-story house faced Second Street and had a double back porch that overlooked the Tennessee River and the hills and mountains beyond. There was a portico at the front entrance. A ravine dropped off just below the house that overlooked the Loomis and Hart lumber and furniture plant. Another steep dropoff was in the downhill direction of Pine Street.
One of the first occupants was Herbert W. Spencer, who was the president of the Spencer-Dowler Co., general insurance agents.
By 1920, the big house was occupied by one of the city’s most interesting characters. John Troutt was born at Halifax, Pa., in 1843, the son of Daniel and Mary Loudmilish Troutt. They were also natives of Pennsylvania, where they died in 1851 and 1854 respectively, leaving John Troutt an orphan. He followed the masonry and stone cutting trade until 1868 when he headed West. His experiences there “were filled with thrills and exciting experiences.” He took part in the Gold Rush and was “an Indian fighter.” Troutt got into railroad building in the West and one of his most thrilling experiences was seeing the arrival of the first train along the tracks he had helped erect. He was in Montana, Utah, Arkansas and then Texas.
John Troutt was drawn to Chattanooga by the project to connect Chattanooga with Cincinnati by rail. He also said he had heard of Chattanooga “in the barbarous wilds of Arkansas” and “it sounded like a pretty good city.” He picked up the news about the new rail line while he was going through Texas. He was one of the contractors on the line that was first built to Boyce in East Chattanooga and then on into downtown. With his masonry skills, he built a wall where the railroad passed by the National Cemetery. Troutt liked Chattanooga so well that he decided to stay.
When the contractor for the stone work on the Stone Methodist Church skipped out, Troutt and a partner finished it. He also helped build the pink sandstone First Baptist Church on Georgia Avenue and the Sts. Peter’s and Paul’s Catholic Church on Eighth Street.
Troutt & Coxon, dealers in marble furniture slabs, and manufacturers of monuments and general cemetery work, was established in September, 1885. They employed two traveling salesmen and 75 work hands. When William Coxon died in 1888, Trout …….