Davidson's Was Long-time Clothing Retailer in Downtown

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley
Photo of Davidson store front from Chattanooga Commercial Review of 1914
Photo of Davidson store front from Chattanooga Commercial Review of 1914

Mention the topic of the glory years of shopping downtown to half-centenarians and their elders, and many will tell of Loveman’s, The Leader, Miller Brothers, and T.H. Payne.  All were locally-based stores that had grown up with Chattanooga.   One could mix in a few stops at Jack’s Records, the Martin or Rogers movie theaters, the Orange Julius, and Planters Peanuts, and have a fun day in downtown.

There is one store which I recently learned of that was also locally-based, and also around for years – Davidson’s.

  The retail clothier was founded in 1881 by Charles A. Davidson, who had earlier moved to Chattanooga to work at the Roane Iron Company.  Two sons, Robert and Edward, helped their father with the store at 811 Market Street.  Their slogan was “the best goods obtainable at a reasonable profit and one price to all.”

Upon the passing of the elder Davidson in 1899, the Davidson brothers became managing partners of Davidson’s.  Edward became the store’s president in 1912, when Robert relocated to Boise, Idaho.  That same year, the store was extended through to Broad Street.  Typical of many downtown retailers, the building’s second story was used for storage of merchandise.

In 1946, control of Davidson’s passed to new out-of-town ownership under Louis Kunlan and Robert M. Stein.  The September 12, 1946 Chattanooga Times reported that a formal grand opening of the new Davidson’s would be held that day.  Models from various sororities at the University of Chattanooga participated in a fashion show.   The store had been remodeled, and was now air-conditioned.  Neon signage displayed “Finer Clothes” above the name “Davidson’s.”

The cash registers of Davidson’s eventually opened nevermore (Had to work in that word, since the Ravens are in the Super Bowl).  On March 29, 1966, the Chattanooga Times reported that Davidson’s would be having a going-out-of-business sale.  The lease on the building had expired, and would not be renewed.  Discounts of up to fifty per cent were offered on familiar brands of clothing - Gant, Hathaway, Jantzen, and Manhattan among them.

If you have memories of Davidson’s, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  I’ll update this article with some of your feedback.

Advertisement from Chattanooga Weekly Commercial of 1-1-1882
Advertisement from Chattanooga Weekly Commercial of 1-1-1882


Signal Mountain Genealogical Society To Meet Oct. 3

The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society will meet on  Tuesday, Oct. 3, at  1 p.m.  at the Walden Town Hall,  1836 Taft Highway .  The speaker for the day, Signal Mountain resident and society member LaVonne Jolley, will present a program entitled, “Research Across the Pond.”  As always, guests are welcome. (click for more)

Bisplinghoffs Practiced The Cooper, Printer Trades In Chattanooga

When the Civil War broke out, Henry Bisplinghoff volunteered as the staff bugler for Henry Ashby's Second Cavalry. He served until Sept. 15 of the following year when he was discharged as being overage. Afterwards, Bisplinghoff was a member of the Confederate Home Guards who stayed behind when younger warriors marched off to fight. His wife and mother gave valuable service as nurses ... (click for more)

Lone Survivor Of Lookout Valley Massacre Says He Is 100% Sure Morse Was One Of Shooters; Detective Tells Of Retrieving Guns

The lone survivor of a massacre at a Lookout Valley trailer park on April 9, 2014, testified Wednesday that he is 100 percent sure that Derek Morse was one of the two shooters. Matthew Callam said he was thrown off initially by the fact that Morse had facial hair at the time, but he said when he was shown a recent photo of Morse soon after the incident "it was like I was looking ... (click for more)

3 Firefighters Carry Unresponsive Woman From Burning Lookout Valley Home

Three Chattanooga firefighters early Wednesday morning carried an unresponsive woman from a burning house in Lookout Valley.   At  3:08  a.m., firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 111 Centro Ave.The 911 dispatchers told the responding firefighters that someone may be trapped inside. Upon arrival, the firefighters observed smoke and flames coming ... (click for more)

Send All Ed Johnson Donations To The Greater Chattanooga Community Foundation

To all concerned, I believe there was mistake printed in a recent article stating to send donations to me at the school. I would ask that all donations be sent to the Greater Chattanooga Community Foundation to the attention of the Ed Johnson Memorial. This project is in no way affiliated with HCDE schools. All funds are housed there and are tax deductible. Mr. Savage ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: McQueen & Her TVAAS

If I am reading my Ouija Board right, I suspect the Hamilton County School Board will vote to allow a controversial “partnership” to be formed with the state Board of Education tonight at its monthly meeting. State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen has said she will demand the one-sided partnership to take over the operation of five at-risk schools in Hamilton County and, if ... (click for more)