Boys and Girls Clubs of Chattanooga sells 165-acre camp

June 18th, 2019 | The Chattanooga Times Free Press 

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Chattanooga has sold a 165-acre tract in Apison which for decades served as a recreation camp for the entity.

The parcel at 5300 Howardsville Road in Apison was sold for $1 million to Tom Willumson, who lives nearby, said Chad Wamack, a broker for NAI Charter Real Estate Corp.

Wamack said a tornado that came through the area in 2011 had damaged buildings on the parcel. He said about one-half of the site, which includes a lake, is located in Hamilton County while the remainder is in Bradley County.

Ben Crerar, an associate of Willumson, said plans are to turn the property into a pair of wedding venues.

Also, he said, there’s already lots of lodging at the site so people attending the weddings could stay for weekends.

“We hope to get the first event by the end of this calendar year,” Crerar said, who added that Willumson has a construction business.

Deana Luedtke of Keller Williams, who represented Willumson, said the property “will be something again. It’s not just going to sit there. He’ll make the property gorgeous.”

Jim Morgan, chief executive of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chattanooga, said the terms of the deal were a combination of cash and financing.

“We’ll take the proceeds and invest into our program,” he said.

Morgan said the camp that held many youngsters over the years sustained a lot of damage during the tornado.

The camp was built in 1961, according to NAI Charter, and holds 8,290 square feet of building space. Among the structures are a kitchen/dining hall, seven sleeping cabins, a lodge, and art and infirmary cabins.

In addition to the 10-acre lake is an in-ground pool and tennis and basketball courts. The site, has 4,960 feet of road frontage and two gated entrances, according to NAI Charter, as well as electric power and city water.

The tornado was part of the deadliest such outbreak in modern history in the Tennessee Valley, where 81 people were killed.

Before the April 27, 2011, storm, meteorologists predicted a potentially “high-risk” storm for the region. But as the thunderstorms formed supercells, 90 percent produced tornadoes — the normal rate is 25 percent — that swept in three violent waves that began in the region of DeKalb County, Alabama, at 7:30 a.m. and continued across Georgia and Southeast Tennessee until 10 p.m.

In Ringgold, Georgia, a family of four was killed when a violent EF4 tornado traveled over White Oak Mountain and struck Cherokee Valley. In Apison, the same tornado killed four generations of one family hiding in a trailer.

The region’s deadliest tornado of the day touched down in Alabama in the Lakeview community. It continued down a 34-mile lethal path, killing 33 people, including a 20-year-old woman and her great-grandmother and a couple in their 60s who were grade-school sweethearts.

In the end, storms across the South killed 316 people that day and caused billions of dollars in destruction.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.