In 1854 Robert Cravens, a leading industrialist in Chattanooga, purchased a thousand acres of land on the side of Lookout Mountain, where he maintained an orchard and built several cabins as a summer retreat for his family. Two years later the family became the first to establish a permanent residence there, and the Cravens house, originally a white, L-shaped, one-story home with six rooms, was a prominent feature on the mountainside.
After the battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, Confederate troops occupied Lookout Mountain. By securing Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the valley between, the Confederates held the Federals in Chattanooga. Confederate forces built defenses that passed through Cravens’s land, making the “white house” a target for the Federal artillery on Moccasin Bend. Although the house was struck six times, the family remained until mid-November.
On November 24, 1863, General Joseph Hooker and his Union troops attacked Lookout Mountain. The Confederates made a stubborn resistance at the house but retreated by mid-afternoon. Once in the possession of the Union troops, Cravens’s house became the headquarters for General W. C. Whitaker’s command.
Returning home after the battle, the family found only the stone basement and dairy house still standing. Cravens rebuilt his home and remained on the mountain until his death in 1886. Today, the National Park Service maintains the home as a significant part of the Lookout Mountain battlefield.