Brainerd Cleaners, an iconic former Chattanooga-area business, is pictured here in the mid-1940s.
This photo, part of the Chattanooga Free Press collection of vintage images housed at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is dated 1946. The collection is curated at ChattanoogaHistory.com by local historian Sam Hall.
Chattanooga city directories of the era place this establishment, and the adjacent Rose Beauty Shoppe, in the 3200 block of Brainerd Road just east of the Missionary Ridge tunnels — a section of Brainerd now occupied by art stores, a pet groomer and the SPOT Venue among other businesses.
A mid-20th century city directory lists the owner of the Rose Beauty Shoppe as Ms. V.L. Coffey. The late Mark Chapman was a long-time owner of Brainerd Cleaners. Chapman passed the business onto two of his sons, according to newspaper archives, which also placed the opening of the business as 1946.
By the 1950s, Brainerd Cleaners had relocated several blocks east to 3401 Brainerd Road, where it remained in the family for decades before closing several years ago.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is designed to preserve historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo old negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non-digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall at email@example.com for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
The vintage photo shows that the original Brainerd Cleaners included curb service.
"Notice how the cars are parked," says Rick Jones, owner of the Kleen-A-Matic cleaners at 3337 Brainerd Road, whose business formerly competed with Brainerd Cleaners. "There's no parking at all up there now. Brainerd Road was probably two lanes back then."
Jones, who operates a chain of five dry cleaning businesses around Chattanooga, said his Brainerd location opened in 1954. He went to work there in 1967 before buying into the business in 1981, he said.
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 https://chattanoogahistory.com/rememberwhen.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645.