What Did That Building Used to Be? Hixson Post Office

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley
Former Hixson post office was dedicated in 1962.
Former Hixson post office was dedicated in 1962.

The concept of time travel has always fascinated me.  As a child, “The Time Tunnel” and Mr. Peabody’s WABAC (way back) machine on “The Bullwinkle Show” held my interest.  Films such as “The Time Machine” and the “Back to the Future” trilogy were must-sees.   This must have indicated an aptitude for becoming a Memories writer.

As I was stopped in traffic at 5123 Hixson Pike the other day, the thought of setting a time device to certain years occurred to me.  Today, that address is the home of the Ace Cash Express, sandwiched between a Central Park restaurant and an Auto Zone store.   Back in 2000, Batteries Plus occupied those time and space coordinates before moving to their present home on Highway 153.  In 1990, the Kleen-a-Matic dry cleaning business was often pressed for time there.   Spinning the dial again back to 1980, we find Televillage, a renter and retailer of home electronics, which are like time machines because we can use them to watch old programs.

Those residents who are new to Hixson since 1976 may be surprised to learn that this building was once the community’s mail center.  The Chattanooga Times reported on March 8, 1962 that a new post office would be dedicated in two days.   Mail had been distributed from the new center since December 26, 1961.

The Hixson post office needed a new home due to rapid growth in the community.  Hixson was once a rural area of small farms.   The post office being replaced in 1961 was located near the old epicenter of Hixson at Old Hixson Pike and Adams Road.   Ephraim Hixson was a rural merchant and first postmaster of Hixson after the Civil War.

The Hixson of the early 1960’s, though, included several subdivisions for the employees of Dixie Yarns, DuPont, TVA, and others.   The old postal facility was not only too small, but wasn’t even on the main road through Hixson.  A rail viaduct and new section of Hixson Pike caused a change in traffic flow, as well as the addition of “Old” as a prefix to the name of the old route.  Hixson was still rural enough that the 1962 city directory only listed individual addresses as far north as 4444 Hixson Pike, home of Valley Mill Outlet.

From the new 2,700 square foot mail facility, a team of five clerks and five rural carriers routed mail to approximately 3,000 families in a 50-square mile area.  James C. Pendergrass was postmaster.  The building was erected with private capital under a new leasing program of the federal government.

At the dedication were Hamilton County Judge Chester Frost, School Superintendent Sam P. McConnell, and Rep. James B. Frazier, who served in the U.S. Congress from 1949 to 1963.  “These communities (in the Third District) are growing so fast that they outgrow their post offices, “Frazier said.  He went on to say that he expected Hixson to be dedicating another new post office in the near future.

Rep. Frazier’s words came true in the next decade, as the June 29, 1976 Chattanooga News-Free Press reported that a new post office site had been picked.  It would be located on the ring road of the relatively new Northgate Mall.  The opening of the new 9,300 square-foot building, still the Hixson post office today, was announced in the April 9, 1978 Chattanooga Times.   

For a while, it seemed that the new post office would not carry a “Hixson, TN 37343” sign.  The February 20, 1976 Chattanooga Times reported that the Hixson post office was being merged into the Chattanooga post office.  Addresses would now read, “Chattanooga, TN  37443.”  However, community support, coupled with support of elected officials of various governments, allowed Hixson to keep its own ZIP code and own mailing address.

If you have memories of the various Hixson post offices, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  I'll update this article with reader feedback.

It came close to losing its Hixson name, but the current post office carries on with its historic identity.
It came close to losing its Hixson name, but the current post office carries on with its historic identity.
- Photo2 by Harmon Jolley

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