What Did That Building Used To Be: Samuel Stamping and Enameling Company

Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - by Harmon Jolley

On April 6, 2004, the Chattanoogan.com reported that the city of Chattanooga is acquiring property from the GE Roper Corporation in order to expand Coolidge Park. The transaction includes 28 acres bordered by the Market Street Bridge, the Tennessee River, and Manufacturers Road. Several buildings of a former manufacturer will be torn down. For over 40 years, this was the domain of the Samuel Stamping and Enameling Company.

The founder of the company, William R. Samuel, was born in 1885 in Swansea, Wales. He was always proud of his Welsh heritage, and sometimes sang the songs of old Wales at family and business gatherings. His family moved to the United States when he was nine years old, and settled in Pittsburgh, Pa. where his father went to work for United States Steel. When he reached adulthood, William landed his first job as an accountant with U.S. Steel, followed by a position as a salesman for an enameling company in Ohio. In 1913, he moved to Chattanooga, and took a job in sales with the Chattanooga Stamping and Enameling Company.

By 1926, having several years of experience in the finished metal products business, Mr. Samuel started his own company, Samuel Stamping and Enameling. The company initially manufactured stove parts and related equipment. Mr. Samuel pioneered the replacement of nickel-plated stoves with ones with enamel finishes. In 1929, the first continuous enameling furnace in the southeast was installed at the plant. Using some of the same concepts as used in the continuous kilns of chinaware companies, the equipment allowed the company to double its production. In the mid-1930’s, a second furnace was installed at the plant. The Samuel company joined with neighboring firms on Manufacturing Road to make Chattanooga a national leader in manufacturing.

In addition to making products under its own name, Samuel also did stamping and enameling work under contract to other companies. During World War II, many American manufacturers were transformed into defense plants, and Samuel was no exception. They made blitz containers, the large fuel cans used by the military. For his work in this area, William R. Samuel received the Outstanding Performance Medal of the Quartermaster Corps.

Samuel continued to expand after WWII. A 1960 city directory advertisement listed their product line:

* Suburban Built-in Ranges, electric and gas
* SAMCO gas floor furnaces
* Suburban gas wall furnaces
* SAMCO gas space heaters
* SAMCO patented steel burners
* Porcelain enamel stove stampings

The company held sales meetings at the Tivoli, where the newest stoves and heaters would be the main attraction on the stage.

My uncle, Hoyt Hickman, worked at Samuel Stamping and Enameling, and it was through my cousin, Karleen Holloway, that I first learned about the company. She recalled that she and her mother would ride with my uncle to work from their home near Powells Crossroads: “Daddy worked the night shift; Mama and I would go there as he went to work. We would walk over Market Street Bridge into downtown and "window" shop. After we had drooled over the things we couldn't afford, we went back to a Kroger on the Samuel side of the bridge and bought blueberry preserves. We saved the jars(glasses) they came in and still have them. We then slept in the car till he finished his shift. I can only remember of his work experience that he worked long hours for minimum wage(60 cents per hour, I think).”

William R. Samuel passed away in 1964 at the age of 79. Financial troubles at the Samuel company brought about its demise by November, 1967 when creditors began to liquidate the assets. Approximately 250 employees were affected. Roper bought the Chattanooga plant in 1968, and manufactured gas and electric stoves and ranges under contract to Sears and under the Roper name. The company also operated an outlet store next to the plant, where they sold Roper lawn equipment. The Roper plant closed in 2002.

If you have memories of the Samuel Stamping and Enameling Company, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net.


East Tennessee Historical Society Honors Hamilton County Initiative With Award Of Excellence In East Tennessee History

Hamilton County History Scholars To Compete In National Competition

Chattanooga Area Historical Association Meets June 13


The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 7, at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville. ... (click for more)

Four Hamilton County students who placed first or second in their categories at this year’s Tennessee History Day contest will represent Tennessee at National History Day competition beginning ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Area Historical Association will meet Monday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 554 McCallie Ave. David Cooper will discuss the six churches in Chattanooga ... (click for more)



Memories

East Tennessee Historical Society Honors Hamilton County Initiative With Award Of Excellence In East Tennessee History

The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 7, at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville. Since 1982, the Society has annually recognized individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation, promotion, programming and interpretation of ... (click for more)

Hamilton County History Scholars To Compete In National Competition

Four Hamilton County students who placed first or second in their categories at this year’s Tennessee History Day contest will represent Tennessee at National History Day competition beginning June 12. After competing in regional contests across the state, 241 students advanced to this year’s Tennessee History Day competition, held the first two weeks of April. At Tennessee ... (click for more)

Breaking News

EPA Awarding Brownfield Grant At Site Of Planned Lookouts Stadium

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe on Wednesday is set to present the city of Chattanooga with Brownfield program cleanup and assessment grants at the site of a planned new $79.5 million stadium to be used by the Lookouts. The press conference will be at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site. The grant is "to help spur economic revitalization ... (click for more)

$79.5 Million Stadium Touted As Catalyst For Major Project At Long-Blighted Wheland/U.S. Pipe Site; Lookouts To Pay $1 Million Annually To Lease "Community" Stadium

More than 100 acres of the long-neglected U.S. Pipe and Wheland Foundry sites "will begin transforming into a world-class live-work-play district that will generate more than $40 million for schools," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly announced at a press conference at the site on Thursday. Flanked by nationally renowned master developer Jim ... (click for more)

Opinion

New Stadium Does Not Pass The Smell Test - And Response

I can't find any logical reasons that the new Lookout stadium is being placed where it is other than to think it's a combination of favoritism and eliminating an eyesore. All statistics point to an illogical decision coupled with questionable tax breaks/support. Lookouts average attendance in 2018 (all that I could quickly find) was 3,206 per game and ranked 74th among ... (click for more)

School Achievement Tied To Funding?

My career was in the public schools of several states. I never drew the connection to funding for schools and achievement until later. This is what I have found. The states of the deep south are run by Republicans. In all of them, educational achievement is poor. Is there a connection between funding for schools and achievement? The answer to that should be a resounding "yes." ... (click for more)