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"Scenic Roots" offers conversations that matter in the heart of Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley.From the mountains to the river, our conversations are rooted deep within every corner of our community - reflecting who we are, who we were and who we can become.We engage with the news that affects our community, behind and beyond the headlines. We build bridges that span from creators and innovators to storytellers and the outdoors. We focus on our challenges as many communities in one - as we celebrate what inspires us. We resonate with countless voices - in words and spaces, sounds and songs.We are "Scenic Roots."Ray Bassett hosts and produces "Scenic Roots" at WUTC.

Sculpture Fields, Part I: Pamela Henry, Cathy Clifford & Jay Heavilon

An aerial view of Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.
Sculpture Fields at Montague Park
An aerial view of Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.

More than a century ago - in 1911 - Mary Thayer Montague donated 49 acres of pristine land to the City of Chattanooga for use as a park.

But by the 1940’s, the park in the Southside had become a construction landfill.

Later, Montague Park was used for recreation: kite competitions, motocross racing, softball tournaments.

However, by 2003, the park had become a brownfield - and environmental concerns forced its closure.

A few years later came the idea of a sculpture park on the site - and sculptor John Henry led the grassroots effort to establish it safely.

In 2016, Sculpture Fields at Montague Park opened on 33 acres of the site - now the largest sculpture park in the Southeast.

"Ardent" by Andrew Light at Sculpture Fields.
Grant Dotson Photography / Sculpture Fields at Montague Park
"Ardent" by Andrew Light at Sculpture Fields.

This Saturday, the annual sculpture burn - Fire Up the Fields - will be held at the park, starting at 5:30 PM.

Today, the vision for the future of Sculpture Fields looks bright - as part of a recently-proposed reimagining of the entire Montague Park site.

With that in mind, we are looking back on the creation of Sculpture Fields with a series of conversations here on “Scenic Roots.”

Pamela Henry moved to Chattanooga with her husband John in 2000.

Sculpture Fields as it is today would not be here without them - and what stands there now is also a tribute to John, who died last year.

Cathy Clifford began working for John and Pamela in 2006 at John Henry Sculptor, Inc. - and then, as executive director of Sculpture Fields.

Jay Heavilon is emeritus honorary trustee of the Sculpture Fields Board of Directors.

Stay tuned for more of our conversations on Sculpture Fields at Montague Park this week here on “Scenic Roots.”

More details on Saturday's Fire Up the Fields at sculpturefields.org.

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  • He was a lawyer, a diplomat - and an activist for civil rights for Mexican-Americans. Alonso S. Perales was born in San Antonio - and his life and work spanned the first half of the last century. A few years ago, Dr. Cynthia Orozco wrote a book about him.