Remember when, Chattanooga? Loveman's was a downtown Chattanooga institution

Loveman's department store was an institution at 8th and Market streets for 100 years. / Photo from the Free Press archives
Loveman's department store was an institution at 8th and Market streets for 100 years. / Photo from the Free Press archives

For more than 100 years, Loveman's department store was a downtown Chattanooga institution.

History sources tell us that Loveman's was Chattanooga's largest department store when it opened in the 1880s at the corner of 8th and Market streets. The store recovered from a fire in 1891, and by the WWI era it employed about 300 people. The company eventually opened satellite stores in the suburbs culminating in the opening of a branch at Hamilton Place mall in 1987.

Loveman's was bought by Proffitt's in 1988, which in turn sold it to the Belk chain.

In this photo from the Chattanooga Free Press archives, taken in 1960, Loveman's was still part of a bustling downtown shopping district. Also visible in the photo - along with a river of pedestrian traffic - are such downtown stores Pickett's and Kress along with the Rogers Theater and the Patten Hotel.

"This scene represents the kind of photos that become more interesting over time," said Sam Hall, curator of "In 1960, and for years to come, it would be seen as unremarkable. Now we feast our eyes on all the tidbits of the past. I should also remind everyone we can still create gifts for future generations by taking such 'boring' photos today."

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Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, is designed to preserve historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo old negatives, glass plate negatives, or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall at for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.

Today the former Loveman's building is occupied by upscale condominiums and a collection of start-up companies. The Lamp Post Group, parent company for a host of startups, occupies 31,000 square feet of the property.

Beverley Bowman remembers working downtown at the State Theater in the early 1950s when Loveman's was a center of commerce.

"I remember that they had clerks that would pull out trays of lingerie (to show customers)," she said. "I remember they had a lunch counter. At Christmas, they would have breakfast with Santa Claus for kids."

Please see the Remember when, Chattanooga? Facebook page for more photographic memories of the Chattanooga area. Photos featured in this series are also available for closer inspection at

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.

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