Early Manufacturer S.B. Lowe Was Among The "Captains Of Industry" With Home On The East Terrace

  • Friday, October 7, 2022

Samuel Brunswick Lowe lived many years in the line of mansions on Cameron Hill's East Terrace.

Lowe was born in Bethel, Conn., in 1828, the son of an immigrant Presbyterian/Congregational minister. He tried farming in Conklin, N. Y, then he became a student of the iron business in St, Louis and New Orleans.

Just before the Civil War, he opened one of the first roiling mills in the South. His Vulcan Works was in South Chattanooga. Col. Lowe acquired over 4,500 acres of mineral land at Johnson's Crook in Dade County, Ga., for a supply of iron.

He obtained a contract with the Confederate States of America in 1862 to provide "merchant bars, gunboat plating and railroad irons.” Two blast furnaces were at Johnson's Crook to produce pig metal for use at the Vulcan Works.

As the armies approached Chattanooga, Col. Lowe left his almost-complete Vulcan Works near Chattanooga Creek. He moved to Selma, Ala., to set up another mill. When he returned to Chattanooga after the war, he found only charred ruins where his foundry had been. He traveled throughout the country to find parts to rebuild his plant. The plant went back into operation, but it could not survive the Panic of 1873. Before its fall, the Vulcan Works employed 200 workers in making car axles and railroad cars.

The Vulcan Works later reopened, and the office of Col. Lowe on West Eighth Street was hooked up by the newly invented telephone to his plant in South Chattanooga over a mile away.

The Vulcan Works was shut down by the Yellow Fever of 1878, but Col. Lowe continued to send market reports to newspapers in the state. 

The Vulcan Works was taken over by the South Tredegar Iron Works and converted for steel production. The plant produced nails, but this mill only lasted a short while.

Col. Lowe later dealt in heavy hardware and pig iron from his Eighth Street office. He worked with his son at Lowe's Metallic Paint Company.

Col. Lowe was a resident of Cameron Hill as early as 1876 when he was living on Pine Street at the corner of Eighth. He later lived on the east side of Georgia Avenue north of McCallie, then at the northwest corner of McCallie and Houston.

He had moved into his fine home at 8 East Terrace by 1883. However, he died in 1890. Henry Ewing, a son-in-law of Capt. H.S. Chamberlain, lived there. Later the R.A. Cliffords occupied the Lowe home. Near the end, it had been divided into five apartments. 

Col. Lowe's son, another Samuel Brunswick Lowe, studied at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. He was married in 1882 to his wife Elsie. They had three daughters and a son, S.B. Lowe III.

S.B. Lowe Jr. was secretary of the paint company, which stayed in operation until 1943. He lived on Lookout Mountain. He suffered ill health and went to Hot Springs in hope of finding a cure. However, he died in 1927 at the age of 45. Samuel Brunswick Lowe IV lives in Brentwood, Tn. His sister is Elizabeth Lowe. Samuel Brunswick Lowe V is a student at UT.  

A photo has not yet been found of the Lowe house on the East Terrace.


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