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This view of Glass Street in East Chattanooga was probably shot in the 1940s or early 1950s. It was found in an old envelope by Times Free Press reader Arlene Rogers, who submitted it for publication. / Photo submitted by Arlene Rogers

In the 1940s, East Chattanooga's Glass Street was the retail hub of a vibrant neighborhood.

Times Free Press reader Arlene Rogers, who submitted this vintage photo, said the snapshot was found in a small envelope of photographs given to her about 25 years ago by a church friend.

"I'm 72," Rogers said in an interview, "and when I was a little girl, I lived in East Chattanooga on Davenport Street. We walked to Glass Street all the time. It had everything you needed."

Indeed, in this photo alone, pictured businesses included Jackson Hardware, Bacon Drug Co., Contor's Dry Goods and a Mobilgas service station. A food store and 5 & 10 cent store are also visible. At points in the mid-20th century there was also a Western Auto and a Hamilton Bank branch on the street, Rogers remembers.

The automobile models seen here date this photo to the 1940s, as does the Rivoli Theater, pictured on the right side of Glass Street in this photo.

Sam Hall, a local history buff and curator of the ChattanoogaHistory.com website, said his research indicates that the Rivoli Theater opened in 1926 and closed in the 1950s. Neighborhood movie theaters were common in the era, he said, and often charged admission of around 10 cents. By the late 1950s, the Rivoli had closed as a theater and was being used for religious revivals, according to newspaper archives.

More Info

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.

For her part, Rogers said she remembers seeing westerns at the Rivoli Theater when she was a child with her mother while her father did shift work at a plant in North Georgia.

By the time Rogers was in high school, the Rivoli building had been converted into the Dollar House Restaurant, where she worked as a waitress when she was 15. She said the building had a main floor and a balcony. It was packed for Sunday dinner and often hosted parties around the Christmas and New Years' holidays.

"It was cafeteria-style," Rogers recalls. "They would have three meats, vegetables, salads and a drink, all for just $1. Tax was 3 cents."

Rogers says she remembers one busy day making almost $15 in tips.

This photo shows Glass Street with the intersection of Chamberlain Avenue in the foreground. According to historic records, a family named Koblentz operated several businesses in the area during this period.

Glass Street, local history sources note, was also the first concrete street in Hamilton County.

Follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga" public group on Facebook.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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