Tennessee Modernism: Rodgers Building by Shelton & Stachel

Structure: Howard Rodgers Building
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Architect: Shelton & Stachel
Date: 1947
Tidbit: In 1947, a Knoxville, Tennessee contractor named Howard Rodgers commissioned the local architectural firm Shelton & Stachel to design a headquarters for his operations.

A sale flyer featuring the architects’ stamp in the bottom left

The result was this building, designed in a style that’s sometimes called “Mid-Century Moderne”, “Streamline Moderne,” or “Art Moderne.” It’s safe to say there aren’t too many buildings like this in Tennessee.

The interior featured oak floors, cherry wood panelling, and those neat, custom triangular lights

Over time, the building was whatever the current owner needed it to be. Sometimes, that meant it needed to be teal.

In my opinion, the most epic part of this building’s saga is this majestic tree out front which that slowly broke down until, one day, it was bulldozed.

So long, mighty tree 😞🌳

Let’s not end on a sad note. There’s not a ton of literature on Shelton & Stachel but as best as I can find, they were a firm comprised of LC Shelton and Louis T. Stachel that formed around 1947 with a big hospital commission. Shelton came to Knoxville and was a partner with architect Frank O. Barber in the early 1940s. A drug overdose took Barber in 1941, so Shelton continued to run their firm (Barber & Stachel). Shelton had the kind of early 1940s design sensibility which allowed him to design buildings like the factory (pictured below) which he designed in 1944. This building may have been what caught Rodgers’ eye and prompted him to have Shelton design him an office/HQ.

Stachel was a native of Greeneville, Tennessee and started practicing architecture in Knoxville around 1941. Early on, Stachel worked for the TVA. However in 1957 he got a job in Mobile, Alabama with a firm called Palmer & Baker Inc. He transferred all of him (and, I assume, his firm’s) files and contracts to architect David B. Liberman.