His daughter described him as a somewhat shy dreamer with many ideas; yet seldom had enough money to follow through with them.
Paul A. Hiener was first and foremost, a printer – by trade for over 70 years. His passion for local history and photography progressively led him to collecting pictures. These interest and talents combined to produce four volumes of Chattanooga photos.
He worked constantly – seven days a week. At age 86, he was on his way to work the morning he died.
Paul Hiener begins publishing the Northside News - focusing on North Chattanooga, where he lived and opened printing offices in 1923.
Mr. & Mrs. Hiener purchases an 18-room house on Signal Mountain known as 'The Cliffs'. It burns 2 months after they open as a 'Rest Resort'. The estate had been built on the site of The Cliffs Hotel, which was also destroyed by fire decades earlier.
Around this time, Paul begins his multi-decade search for Chattanooga photos.
Hiener Printing publishes Chattanooga Yesterday and Today Volumes 1-4.
Brakes fail while Paul is traveling down Forest Ave. on his recently purchased '73 Buick Station Wagon.
An unavoidable collision occurs with a pickup truck at Frazier Ave. The wreck comes to a rest at the base of the historic Walnut Street Bridge.
Hiener's daughter, Minette H. Millwood,
donates her father's collection to the public library.
"We felt it would be a good place to have them because more people could take advantage of them and use them for years to come."
Mrs. Millwood said.
"We know he would be pleased by that decision."
News Free Press article reports "Paul Hiener's Historic Photos May Be Available Soon". Library officials report collection in storage is in the process of being cataloged.
The digitization of the Hiener collection is funded by the Benwood Foundation.
The department continued building on this project scanning photographs from other collections (Free Press, Picture file, Chattanooga Albums, etc) in the subsequent decades, ultimately scanning and providing access to the more than 10,000 photos available via the online catalog, which was recently upgraded.
Such historic photo collections rarely make it to public access. People tend to hold on to them due to perceived value or future plans that never materialize. After death, families are overwhelmed with grief and estate settlement. Those once prized collections are often thrown away or put into storage to begin another cycle of inaccessible slow decay.
It is my belief that Paul A. Hiener’s sudden and tragic death became a catalyst for his family to immortalize his efforts in a way that would be remembered and cherished for generations. With these volumes out of print for over a half-century, I’m using my skills to share these books online. If Hiener had lived to see the internet, I’d like think he’d proudly approve.
Sources utilized for this page.