The Observatory and the Telescope

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The minutes of the society on April 23, 1935 as recorded by Secretary Paul S. Lewis reports the observatory committee had had a favorable meeting with the Commissioner of Education Mr. T. H. McMillan and that the observatory would be funded principally by an $8000 grant from the Public Works Administration of the City of Chattanooga. It was also reveled that Clarence Jones had spent the fall of 1934 in collaboration with Mr. Marion C. Wall of the Chattanooga Engineers Association to produce the drawings of a 20.5 inch cassegrain telescope. Mr. Jones had considered buying a suitable telescope but after much research he found the best proposal available was $17,000 which he said was beyond the financial means of any of those involved.

He had submitted the drawings to the Eureka Foundry of Chattanooga. The company had stated they would donate their labor and that the cost of the castings for the fork mounting and base would be $700.

It was later deduced from his logs that Clarence Jones, his sons Auther and Bruce had already designed and built the motor driven grinding lap and had bought optical glass for the proposed mirror at a personal cost of about $1000.

The observatory complex would of course be designed by Clarence Jones and would contain the main telescope gallery and pier, a lecture hall, library, photographic dark room, basement work shops, living quarters and a heating plant. Furnishings and ancillaries were donated by local merchants and patrons. Land was procured just off Brainerd Road facing what is now Tuxedo Avenue. This is about one mile beyond the east slope of Missionary Ridge on the small hill above Brainerd High School.

The observatory complex was to be completed under the direct supervision of Mr. Jones and beginning work was reported February 25, 1936.

The foundation and pier were laid with ceremony May 16, 1936. The one hundred twenty ninth meeting of the society was held in the observatory lecture room with seventy five members, Clarence T. Jones presiding on June 25, 1936. Commissioner McClellan conducted a presentation and honorary tribute was paid to Dr. Annetta Trimble who was present for the event.

Dr. Trimble, “Miss Nettie”, as she was called by her mathematics students, retired with great honor from her fifty year professorship at Chattanooga High School. Her bronze relief was placed with ceremony near the entrance of the auditorium in 1938. She died at her home at 526 Oak Street on March 14, 1948 at age 85.

Next — The Mirrors