Minit Car Wash Was Among Displaced Businesses At The Foot Of Cameron Hill

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - by Harmon Jolley
Minit Car Wash ad
Minit Car Wash ad

As they became common in the 1900s, automobiles spawned numerous car care inventions.  If your car got stuck in a muddy ditch in Chattanooga, a locally made Ernest Holmes wrecker could come to your rescue.  Was one of your tires damaged in that accident?  A tire-changing machine was faster and easier than the old way of changing the tire manually.  Need to get all that mud off your vehicle after it was back on the road?  Stop by the Minit Car Wash which opened in 1948 in the West Side at Eighth and Pine streets. 

This was in an old three-story brick building constructed about 1926 for the Chattanooga Garage.

That company, operated by the Foust family, featured parking as well as gasoline and vehicle service. The handsome building had a set of five arched windows on the top floor above another set of five windows. The address was 715-723 Pine. 

There had been earlier forms of “automated” car washes elsewhere such as workers pushing a car down the line to be sprayed, lathered, sponged, and dried.  Minit Car Wash, though, featured modern automation according to their advertisement in the September 23, 1948 Chattanooga Times.  They took your car wash experience “out of the horse and buggy stage.” 

Rolling, hydrated, soft brushes washed your vehicle in two minutes for $1.25 for cars and $1.50 for panel trucks and station wagons.  The car or truck or van was pulled through the line by automated machinery, but the process ended with employees who cleaned the windows, vacuumed the interior, and polished the exterior.  The advertisement noted that the car wash took “less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette or fill your gas tank.”  (Not at the same time, hopefully.)

Despite using automation, Minit still required workers and often ran Help Wanted ads. James M. Ballinger managed the employees in the early years of the enterprise.

Minit Car Wash began small daily advertisements in 1952 in the Times’ Classifieds section with to-the-point wording of “cars washed, dried, and vacuumed.”  Minit later began offering more intensive care for customers who preferred that their vehicles receive a manually applied Simonize waxing along with steaming of tires and removal of road tar.

In the mid-1950’s, the West Side location of Minit was surrounded by other businesses and a few churches.  Chattanooga Garage and an Esso gas station were automobile related.  Noland sold machine tools.  The Production Credit Association provided funding to farmers.  St. Paul’s Episcopal and Second Presbyterian were community churches which are still there today.

The West Side community that included Minit began to disappear in the mid-1950’s as the West Side Urban Renewal began.  The buildings which housed the car wash and other businesses were demolished but the nearby churches were left in place.  The former James A. Henry Elementary School at 1200 Grove St. was among the few West Side structures that escaped the wrecking ball.  The Chattanooga Housing Authority now owns the building.  It was built in 1937.

 The June 16, 1960 Chattanooga Times reported that the Minit Car Wash would be moving to 120 Market Street where the Mertin’s Dry Cleaning business had been located. 

The car laundry was renamed “Nu-Minit Car Wash” after the move to Market Street.  The suds kept flowing until the property was redeveloped during riverfront renovation of the 2000’s.  Buffalo Wild Wings is located there today.

-----

If you have memories of the Minit or Nu-Minit Car Wash, e-mail jolleyh@bellsouth.net

 

Minit Car Wash at Westside
Minit Car Wash at Westside
- photo by From the Pat St. Charles, Jr., Collection scanned by Sam Hall, Chattanoogahistory.com

Police Blotter: Neighbors Argue Over Kids Damaging Car With Basketball; Man Passed Out At Waffle House Is Just Tired

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report


A man on Alexis Circle told police the kids across the street were playing basketball and hit his vehicle, denting it. He said he confronted the father of the kids about the incident. The father ... (click for more)

We send out headlines each week day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there ... (click for more)

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDREWS, ERNEST JESSIE 116 CALIFORNIA AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37415 Age at Arrest: 42 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank PUBLIC INTOXICATION ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Police Blotter: Neighbors Argue Over Kids Damaging Car With Basketball; Man Passed Out At Waffle House Is Just Tired

A man on Alexis Circle told police the kids across the street were playing basketball and hit his vehicle, denting it. He said he confronted the father of the kids about the incident. The father said it was not possible due to the damage of the vehicle being on top of the trunk, not the front of the trunk. However, if the man could show him video footage of his kids damaging his ... (click for more)

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each week day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com. In addition, ... (click for more)

Opinion

22 Questions And Concerns About A New $79.5 Million Lookouts Stadium

The proposal for the Lookouts stadium brings forth several questions that I have not gotten good answers yet from anyone. 1. If the 10 acres Gary Chazen is donating is worth $10,000,000, why doesn’t he and his partners just sell the 140 acres and go to the bank with over $100,000,000? 2. There has been over a billion dollars of new construction in downtown Chattanooga ... (click for more)

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)

Sports

Lookouts Rally Twice To Beat Birmingham

It’s been a tough week for the Chattanooga Lookouts, but it all ended on a positive note with a come-from-behind victory over the Birmingham Barons Sunday night at AT&T Field. The Lookouts had to come back twice against the Barons after the division leaders scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning for a 6-5 lead after leading 1-0 in the first. It wasn’t the prettiest ... (click for more)

CFC Wins 2-1 Over Visiting Syracuse Pulse

Chattanooga Football Club returned to Finley Stadium on Saturday night, looking to put on a show for the holiday weekend. More importantly, the CFC Men wanted to extend their unbeaten streak to eight and expand their lead at the top of the table. They would take care of both. CFC hosted Syracuse Pulse for the second time in three weeks. The last contest ended in a 3-0 win for ... (click for more)