Jerry Summers: Glenwood Manor - Educational Academy?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

Down Dodds Avenue at the western base of Missionary Ridge at the corner of McCallie Avenue a block from a prominent male prep school and the former site of the campus of the relocated Central High School is the location of a former institution of non-accredited learning about the facts of life that some young men from both schools acquired that was not part of the regular curriculum of young male high school students.

All that exists now to identify its location is a non-functioning rusting neon sign.

In the 1940s-1960s the sign glowed brightly as a welcome beacon to the young men and adults that were willing to part with a few dollars to learn further knowledge of the “oldest profession” known to man.

Glenwood Manor’s social history is documented in the legal annals of Tennessee jurisprudence in a published case located at 352 S.W.2d 227 (1961).

The middle-aged madam was charged and indicted on a charge of operating a bawdy house and unlawfully engaging in assignation.

She was tried before a Hamilton County trial jury and was fined the astronomical amount of $50 on the first charge and $25 on the second.

The record shows that on or about February 11, 1961, the ever vigilant Chattanooga Police Department began an investigation of the Glenwood Manor by placing it under surveillance by a uniformed police officer who observed the motel on several occasions during which time he saw men, alone, in pairs or in small groups and men and women in couples enter the motel at all times of the night staying from 30 minutes to two hours and leaving.

The female defendant lived in the motel and used it as her home and as a motel and also provided other illegal and educational services.

Testimony from a neighbor was that most of the visitors to the motel arrived and departed in cars or taxi cabs bearing Hamilton County, Tennessee license plates.

The investigation intensified when the same neighbor stated that his family had been disturbed frequently with profane talk and excessive activity around the motel and that it had a reputation in the community of being a “bawdy house”.

In order to crack down and eliminate a major criminal enterprise, the Chattanooga Police Department sent in a handsome young officer to do some “undercover” work and to rent a room for five days.

The officer observed unusual activities for a legitimate motor lodge and engaged the proprietor in conversation about the extent of services to the public.

She told the young man that she “dated” and also told him that she could supply any number of dates by her and her friends for a price of approximately $15 each (negotiable rate).

During his week-long sabbatical from more strenuous police work he saw women come to the motel and leave the motel escorted and unescorted by men.

After additional undercover police work by two more officers posing as potential clients and establishing a price of $60 for the joint companionship of the madam and another lady a search warrant was executed and the motel was raided.

The madam was found to be completely undressed and her companion was practically unclad.

A defense of entrapment was unsuccessful and the proprietor and assistant were convicted.

Unfortunately this did not end the efforts of the madam to continue her career of educating the male public of the values of her craft as she was convicted once again for an act of prostitution in 1968 during the twilight years of her career.

A law and order-minded trial jury this time fined the business woman the sum of $50.

Although Chattanooga does not have the best record of preserving historical relics it is hopeful that some public-minded citizen should purchase or at least refurbish the now decaying neon sign outside the Glenwood Motel to light up this symbol of the free enterprise system in Chattanooga.

An elder graduate from either of the two high schools might even pay for the repair of this treasure from the past. 

(With a chuckle or at least a smile!)

P.S.

The madam who operated the establishment has been heard by witnesses that she had proudly exclaimed that she had graduated from a conservative church university in Spartanburg, South Carolina but no witness can verify that she displayed a graduation diploma on any of the walls of the brothel.

* * *

Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)  


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