The Historic Dent House, circa 1854, is the last standing antebellum home in Chattanooga. As a beloved icon, this beautiful treasure is now open again to the public as a full scale restaurant specializing in the art of Afternoon Tea. Small and large events are held year round and the historic carriage house is ladened with wares for shoppers to explore. This 165-year-old grand home is the perfect place where friends can gather for lunch, experience a full four-course afternoon tea service, or relax before a fire enjoying a candle lit dinner. Special occasions and celebrations of every sort are perfectly placed amid the centuries-old Magnolias and Oaks, seven large fourteen foot high walled dining rooms, and picturesque fountain centered park.
Whether celebrating intimately or on a grand scale, Polly Claire’s serves a large variety of world class teas and fresh menu items sure to please. Complete lunch to go are also available by phone. Picnic outdoors on our ample property or choose to dine in, we are happy to serve the greater Chattanooga area.
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History of the dent house
The Historic Dent House, circa 1854, packed with history and memories provides four stories and seven large main rooms, an extensive butlers pantry, and six bathrooms. The grand home was no easy build for Colonel Jarret Dent in the mid-1800’s. Colonel Dent moved to "Tynersville" to expand the Western and Atlantic railroads here in Chattanooga. Colonel Lewis Shepard, owning over ten thousand acres in the Hickory Valley area, agreed to sell Dent the 320 acres that comprised what we now know as the lovely Dent House and the surrounding Bonny Oaks. Amazingly, Dent built his home as an exact replica of Shepard’s home, which was later demolished after deterioration in the late 1970's leaving The Dent House as the last standing plantation home in the Scenic City. Owning 22 slaves did not sit well with the neighbors of Jarret Dent. While the heat of the civil war encroached upon the south, Jarrett Dent stole away to Dallas, Texas under the cover of night, where the Colonel felt his family would be safe. Charles Dent, the Colonel's eldest son, did not share his father’s southern loyalty and left Chattanooga to fight valiantly for the cause of the North. It is an accepted truth that Jarret Dent’s cousin was Julia Dent Grant. She married General Grant who later became President Grant. Whispers of history tell of the Dent mansion being used as a heroic military field hospital, due to the many graves marked nearby. We do know the Dent Mansion was occupied by "Bush-Wackers", opportunists and profiteers who looted plantation homes across the south only to trade and sell the plunder.
Colonel Peak bought the spacious home from Dent just after the war ended and further crafted the acreage into a sustainable farm which including several outbuildings. He saw the beautiful trees and exclaimed, “Oh the Bonny Oaks!” and the name has stood to this day. After one woman climbed the steps and left her child, widowed and unable to care for such a treasure, Colonel Peak not only took that one child but many, many more. Upon his death, he deeded the home to the city of Chattanooga and thus it became Bonny Oaks Children’s Home. For decades the area was home to countless children. Dormitories were built, a church, a library, kitchens…the Dent House became the superintendent’s home as the land supported a full dairy and farm for the children that called the sprawling and extensive farm home. Many happy memories were made at The Dent House and beautiful surrounding grounds.
Throughout the course of time,The Dent House went on to support a small meat and three, a bed and breakfast, and even a church extension area for Sunday School and administrative offices. The walls have stood. Memories continued to be made. The history is alive for sharing.
Today the doors are open to any who want to remember the past or make new memories with their family and friends. Long live the legacy and herald praise for the future, as the home welcomes all once again. Although Polly Claire’s brings new life to the Dent House as a restaurant and venue, it will forever remain on the National Historical Register as Chattanooga’s infamous Dent House honoring its origin and past.
The future of polly claire's
Polly Claire’s has painstakingly invested in the beloved home and secondary building behind the Dent. Every effort has been made to return the 165-year-old home to her former glory while bringing modern conveniences and comfort to each guest.
In special recognition of the past, walls have been lined with pictures of the children raised on the grounds and period antiques can be found. Modern delicacies and age old southern recipes are plated to satisfy a variety of tastes on fine china.
Our staff tis ready to assist with making each event prescriptive and unique. Luncheons can be held in private rooms accommodating intimate parties of eight to corporate gatherings of one hundred. Large scale events are also able to be held when the entire building is reserved. Polly Claire’s welcomes all to make their own history inside the walls of the Historic Dent House.