Time was, a hardware store was one of the anchors of small-town commerce.
This Chattanooga Free Press archive photo of the White Oak Hardware and Appliance Co. at 2226 Dayton Blvd. dates from 1947, the year the business opened.
Just the inventory in view includes chicken-wire fencing, trash cans, brooms, rakes, pitchforks, wagons, mailboxes, electric fans, space heaters, buckets and farm supplies.
Signs on the building were sponsored by Sargent Paint, a Cleveland, Ohio-based company that was formed in the late 19th century by former associates of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Co., according to a published history of Cleveland.
The site of the old White Oak Hardware store — an area now occupied by Cooley's Fine Clothing — is on the same block as the still-open White Oak Barber Shop, a business that was established 15 years earlier in 1932.
A Chattanooga Daily Times story from the period says that the hardware store was originally owned by three Red Bank men, but was purchased a few months after it opened by Constable Carl Martin of the third civil district of Hamilton County. The story also says the nearest hardware stores open in the post-World War II era were in "Red Bank to the north, and North Chattanooga to the South."
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.
Today, the area where the hardware store was located is part of Red Bank, but until the mid-20th century Red Bank and White Oak were separate communities. A history of the area published on the Red Bank government website notes that the Red Bank area was originally known as Pleasant Hill.
"When the community was given a federal post office in 1881, the community was notified that another name would have to be used, because a Pleasant Hill, Tenn., already existed," according to the history text. "The postmaster's wife reportedly looked at the red soil along the bank of Stringer's branch and suggested the name Red Bank.
"In 1955, the communities of Red Bank and White Oak incorporated into a town called Red Bank-White Oak. In late 1966, the community voted to call itself Red Bank beginning in 1967 for simplification purposes."
To take a deep dive into a high-resolution digital version of the White Oak Hardware photo visit ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website built to archive legacy photos of the city. It's curated by Sam Hall, a local history enthusiast.
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