The Vagabond – Louis Hart

December 30, 2020 chris
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By Danny Crownover

The Vagabond has wanted for years to know more about Louis Hart, who owned the Bellevue Hotel and built a trolley line from downtown to Noccalula Falls. The answer came recently after some heavy research was done. It was often said that Hart moved up north, but that was not the case.

Hart organized a company to develop Bellevue Highlands on Lookout Mountain and had that section laid off into lots, parks and building sites. He bought the Bellevue Hotel and operated it for several years, so successfully that he built an electric car line up the south side of the mountain to reach it. He had just laid the last rail when the hotel caught fire and burned to the ground.

Hart carried the line to Noccalula Falls, where he built and operated a large pavilion. He began the foundation for a new eight story hotel on another site but had to call off the project because of financial disappointment.

Hart was a suave and polished man, although a self-made one. He could move in any circle with smooth confidence and was master of himself on all occasions. His parents were Rodolphus Henry Hart, Sr., (1816-1872) and Ann Sarah White Hart. They resided at the northwest corner of Broad and Sixth streets. The senior Hart was a merchant from Germany.

There were three sons and four daughters in the family. Leon Hart, the oldest son, was a prominent businessman in New Orleans for many years. He was manager of the famous Mexican band that was featured at the New Orleans Exposition and was one of the promoters of the exposition.

Henry, the next oldest, learned the printer’s trade in the local newspaper office and was of the many bright young men that went out of this office to become a big-time newspaper man. He was managing editor of The Knoxville Sentinel and business manager of The Chattanooga News.

The Hart daughters were Mrs. Alexander Greet and Miss Della Hart of Gadsden and Mrs. Arline Smith and Mrs. Elizabeth Simpson, of Rome, Ga. Mrs. Hart was a sister to Jourd White, the editor of The Moulton Advertiser for more than 50 years.

Louis Hart was born on January 10, 1869 in Gadsden and died on December 12, 1938, in Memphis, Tennessee. He is buried at Forrest Cemetery.