Remember when, Chattanooga? This downtown church was leveled for a parking garage

The then-First Christian Church at Georgia Avenue and East 7th Street is demolished in the early 1950s to make way for a downtown parking garage. / Contributed photo by from the EPB collection.

You'd have to be a member of the Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) - or older - to remember much about this downtown Chattanooga church building.

This photo, taken from the EPB collection of images at, shows the demolition of the then-First Christian Church in the 1950s to make way for a parking garage.

Located near the Hamilton County courthouse on the corner of Georgia Avenue and East 7th Street, the church was originally built as the home of the First Presbyterian Church in the late 19th century and first occupied in 1884.

At the time of its demolition in the 1950s, the church had for decades been the home of First Christian Church, which sold the building for $65,000, according to a newspaper report at the time. The subsequent parking garage was originally operated by Parkrite Auto Parks, a Memphis-based company.

In a 2015 history column about Chattanooga's First Presbyterian Church, written by former Chattanooga Free Press news editor David Cooper and appearing in this newspaper, it was noted that the Georgia Avenue building represented the "first upscale church architecture in the city."

The building helped usher in a new cluster of downtown church buildings, which included structures built by "Catholics, Cumberland Presbyterians, Baptists and Northern and Southern Methodists," Cooper wrote.

"A quarter of a century [after building the Georgia Avenue structure], a burgeoning congregation needing a larger facility built and entered the current sanctuary [on McCallie Avenue] in 1910," Cooper wrote.

The First Christian Church moved into the Georgia Avenue building that same year, according to church records, but by the time this photo was taken it had already relocated to a newly constructed church building, also on McCallie Avenue.

"It is with a great feeling of regret that many who have been baptized and married and had wonderful occasions in the church, see it go," read a item in the weekly newsletter of the First Christian Church.

Planning for the new First Christian Church at 650 McCallie Ave. began in 1945, according to news accounts of the day, and the congregation set a goal of raising $250,000 for the building fund.

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