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The TVA Employees Federal Credit Union opened a $2.5 million office complex at 715 Market Street in 1978. Here, Mildred Farris, a credit union director, addressed visitors at the grand opening. Contributed photo from TVFCU archives.

The June 1978 grand opening of the TVA Employees Federal Credit Union offices at 715 Market St. was big news for the city.

A newspaper advertisement days after the opening noted that it cost $2.5 million to construct the three-story building which was located "in the geographical center of more than 3,000 TVA employees and credit union members working in downtown Chattanooga."

The location of what is now called TVFCU is slated to close later this month. Meanwhile, two new TVFCU locations are opening in May. A walk-in branch near the old 715 Market St. building at the Market City Center will open May 10, and the new Southside Branch at 125 West 20th St. will open May 17.

The administrative offices of TVFCU moved from the 715 Market St. location to 535 Chestnut St. in 2018. Officials said the credit union had outgrown the 1970s-style building.

ChattanoogaHistory.com

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.

The year after the 715 Market St. branch opened in 1978, the TVA Employees Federal Credit Union had assets of $85 million. By 2020, assets had grown to $1.9 billion. TVFCU, Chattanooga's largest credit union, now has 19 branches throughout the region, according to its website.

Long-time employees say there are a lot of memories behind those concrete walls at 715 Market St.

"The day of the opening, the building was beautiful with all the wood ceilings and enormous wood gate that retracted back in the wall to close the teller section off from the main lobby and elevators," remembers credit union employee Belinda Chestnut, who still works for TVFCU. "The gate would slowly open in the mornings and slowly close in the evening at closing [time].

"I remember sitting at my station one or two weeks after the opening frenzy and thinking how satisfied I was working here in this beautiful new building. I could see myself working here for years — not realizing I would be here 43 years later."

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The lobby of the TVA Employees Federal Credit Union is shown in 1978 during the grand opening of the offices at 715 Market Street. The branch will close later this month after 43 years. Contributed photo from TVFCU archives.

Mitz Bush, a credit union underwriter who was also part of the staff in 1978, said: "I remember the community always coming to the credit union building where they could view the Armed Forces Day parades, sitting and standing in the shade. Many of the schools participated."

While the new walk-in branch at Market City Center is smaller, on the scale of local branches in some Food City grocery stores, the new 20th Street branch will feature drive-through lanes, interactive teller machines and ample parking, officials said.

A gallery of images from the Remember When, Chattanooga? series can be seen at ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website of vintage images of the city curated by Sam Hall. Follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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