What Did That Building Used To Be? - Schroeder’s Garden Center

Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - by Harmon Jolley
Schroeder’s Garden Center. Click to enlarge.
Schroeder’s Garden Center. Click to enlarge.

Each year, Chattanooga area residents are fortunate spectators of a very colorful parade of spring flowers and trees. The procession begins with the crocus and daffodil, followed by forsythia, flowering cherry, saucer magnolia, redbud, tulip, dogwood, and azalea. A business which once supported Chattanooga’s spring color parade was the Schroeder’s Garden Center.

William F. Schroeder attended Tulane University, where he was a member of the football team that played in the 1931 Rose Bowl. He graduated in 1933 with a degree in horticulture, and moved to Chattanooga in 1939. Following a job as manager of McDade Orchids, Mr. Schroeder formed Schroeder, Inc. in 1950, with warehouse and offices located off Bailey Avenue near National Cemetery. The company distributed “Gro-Mulch,” an organic mulch-fertilizer derived from Spanish moss. The product’s ability to increase the growth of plants had been documented in tests by Louisiana horticulturists, with additional tests performed by Mr. Schroeder in his home greenhouse.

Mr. Schroeder also opened a garden supply store at 510 Market Street. To be closer to Chattanooga’s growing suburbs, he moved his store in 1957 to Duncan Avenue beside the McCallie Avenue railroad viaduct. In a 1960 advertisement, Schroeder’s proclaimed its motto, “Everything for the Gardener,” and described its line-up of lawn seed, chemicals, fertilizers, sodding, landscaping, and supplies. Schroeder’s also sold lawn mowers, tropical fish, and camping trailers. The staff was reported to have 766 years of combined experience in horticulture. Southern Florist and Nurseryman magazine ran a cover story on the store in 1961. For those who couldn’t visit the store, Schroeder’s also offered home delivery. A 1965 circular said, “But if you just can’t come down, we’re as close as your phone. We’ll be glad to send it to you.”

In 1970, Mr. Schroeder sold the business to Charles B. Mehan, but stayed on as a director of the garden center. He passed away in 1979. North River Nursery acquired Schroeder’s in 1973, and operated the Duncan Avenue store until 1983. Since then, the Montessori World of Children has been located in the former Schroeder’s Garden Center building.

If you have memories of the Schroeder’s Garden Center, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net.


Chester Martin Remembers Jay Craven, Musician

No history of the music scene in Chattanooga could be written without Jay Craven appearing as a central figure. He has assumed so many titles and roles as a   musician here as to be synonymous with the entire musical genre. We can thank an early childhood illness for helping to shape Jay's musical career, and we can also thank Jay's brother, Roy, for inadvertently directing ... (click for more)

Chester Martin Remembers His Uncle, John Wesley Smith

My great uncle was born in the village of Washington, Tn., on the banks of the Tennessee River in Rhea County. He grew up in a typically large family of the day, and one of his sisters was my grandmother, Mattie Smith Young. The Civil War treated his family very un-civilly, witnessing the burning of his home by neighbors after the Battle of Chickamauga. He endured a number ... (click for more)

Kevin Muhammad Says City Programs Failing; More Attention And Funding Needed For Impoverished Inner City Youths

Nation of Islam leader Kevin Muhammad told a packed house at City Council on Tuesday night that a large segment of Chattanooga is impoverished, while parts of the city are enjoying a Renaissance. Given 20 meetings for a "State of the People" address, he said many city programs are failing, including the Violence Reduction Initiative and a Youth and Family Services reading program. ... (click for more)

County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added

County Mayor Jim Coppinger told members of the County Commission at a budget workshop on Tuesday that it would take a 28 1/2-cent property tax increase to fully fund the county school budget request. The county schools are asking for $24,218,919 in new money for a focus on workforce readiness, literacy and low-performing schools. County Mayor Coppinger did not say whether ... (click for more)

Marvelous News From Central High School

To Roy Exum:     With all the recent news of major dysfunctions within our educational system, I thought I might alert you to something better. About a year ago you ventured up Highway 58 to Central High School to represent your late grandfather, Roy McDonald, as he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus during the annual Senior Day festivities. I sort of expected ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Yes, A Social Experiment

JoeySalads, his screen name, is widely known for his funny pranks except for the fact he calls them “social experiments.” So while we are still on the transgender-restroom issue, our boy JoeySalads got a transgender friend to approve his attire before he tried his luck at entering women’s restrooms. I don’t think you’ll be real surprised at what really happened in this video. Click ... (click for more)