This 1963 newspaper photo shows the Sears, Roebuck Co. department store formerly at the corner of Sixth and Market streets in downtown Chattanooga.
The "news" in this photo, which appeared in the Chattanooga News-Free Press on July 16, 1963, was the construction of a multi-level parking garage adjacent to the retail landmark.
Sears had occupied space on Sixth Street since the late 1920s, according to previous news reports, and would continue to operate downtown until 1988.
The caption under the 1963 photo by photographer George Moody noted that the parking garage would stretch from Market to Broad streets and offer space for 430 cars.
The photo is part of an archive of Chattanooga News-Free Press photos which can be seen at ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website devoted to vintage photos of the city and curated by local history buff Sam Hall.
The Sears garage, designed by National Garages Inc. of Detroit, Michigan, was nestled next to the Sears building and offered motorists walk-in access to the national retailer. In the days before shopping malls, this was considered a profound convenience.
Days before this photo was first published, an Independence Day newspaper advertisement for the only Sears store in town touted men's suits on sale for $28 and binoculars for $18. Seamless nylons for women were advertised for 48 cents a pair. The ad encouraged customers to purchase items on their Sears "revolving credit account," the precursor to charge cards.
Downtown workers today will notice the outline of the Sears building and the actual garage structure as part of the Market Court complex, which occupies the same 537 Market St. address. Today, Market Court provides office space to such businesses as Raymond James (financial services) and the Fletcher Bright Co. (real estate).
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non-digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
While Sears first opened a store in Chattanooga in 1928, the building in this photo was constructed in 1932. It had five floors and rose to a height of 63 feet, according to Emporis.com, a global database of building specifications.
A second Sears location opened at Northgate Mall in 1974, according to newspaper records, and a Hamilton Place mall location opened in 1988, shortly after the closing of the downtown store. Both mall locations were closed by early 2019 after Sears filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and began shuttering hundreds of stores nationwide.
TWH Architects handled the renovations in 1991 that resulted in the modern design of the Market Street structure.
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