Remembering Embrey's Drug Store

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - by Harmon Jolley
If they had traffic reports back then, this would have been mentioned.
If they had traffic reports back then, this would have been mentioned.

A reader saw the Memories article on the downtown J.C. Penney’s (  and recognized the building as having once been her grandfather’s drug store.

The reader recalled, “My mother told me her father C.P. Embrey was a druggist and operated his business in that same building.

  She gave me a photo from the Times showing an accident that occurred on the corner taken sometime in the twenties.  The building displays C.P. Embrey on the upper floor.  It is taken looking up 6th Street with the Court House in view.”

“He sold his business in 1929 and bought a hotel.  Not a great time to be investing in the hotel business.  He lost everything during the depression.  I assume Effron (department store which preceded Penney’s) bought the building from him but do not know for sure.”

The artifacts of the Chattanooga Public Library and a genealogy site provided additional information on our reader’s grandfather.  Charles Pierce Embrey was born in 1875 at Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  He later moved across the boot heel of Missouri to the other side of the Mississippi River to Dyersburg, Tennessee in northwest Tennessee.

In 1897, Mr. Embrey moved to Chattanooga and worked for druggist Sterling Miller, also of Dyersburg.  In addition to operating the drug store, Mr. Miller was also a co-founder of the O.B. Andrews paper company. 

Charles Embrey then formed a partnership with Leroy J. Pettus, and they ran a pharmacy at Market and Cowart streets.  The two men resided nearby on West Sixth Street on the slope of Cameron Hill.   By the 1920 city directory, Mr. Embrey was listed as having his own drug store at 600 Market Street, just as our reader had stated.

The photograph which our reader submitted shows that the C.P. Embrey Drug Store was relatively large.  In the next block of Market Street to the south, the Live and Let Live Drug Store operated a similarly-styled business on the northeast corner of Market and Seventh streets.  Today, that is the home of the United Way of Chattanooga.

Other notes on the picture are as follows The Lyric Theater, a local opera house, is at the left edge.  The main scene is one of the clean-up of a wreck.  One can see the snapped telephone pole.  In the distance are the Hardwick-Hogshead Apartments.

Charles P. Embrey passed away at age 64 at his Vine Street residence on April 4, 1940.  By then, he had retired from both the hotel and pharmacy business.

If you have any additional information on the pharmacists mentioned in the article, please send me an e-mail at  I will update this biography with your comments.  Also, thanks to our reader for sharing her memories.  There are many similar stories out there which I'm glad to find in my e-mail's inbox from time to time.





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