Downtown Chattanooga’s ghost signs, explained

Photo of a street with three connected buildings on one side. One of the buildings is made of red brick and features a ghost sign reading "Grand Hotel: Fire Proof"

The ghost sign of The Grand Hotel | Photo via NOOGAtoday

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We know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, we aren’t still clinging to Halloween. Today, we’re diving into something less paranormal — the ghost sign.

What is a ghost sign? Think: old painted advertisements on the sides of buildings that have been preserved for years. Though many of these stories are lost to history, here’s what we learned about the signs adorning 3 Chattanooga structures.

🏢 Cooper’s Office Supply | 717 Cherry St. (visible via Cooper’s Alley)

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Photo via NOOGAtoday

This ghost sign visible inside of Cooper’s Alley marks the former location of Cooper’s Office Supply, a business founded by George Cooper Jr. during the Great Depression. The business originated in the Loveman’s building down the street before moving to Cherry Street in 1938.

In 2010, the 3-generation family business merged with Chattanooga Office Supply + then sold the building to the Lamp Post Group in 2015. However, the Cooper family reopened Cooper’s Office Supply in 2021 at a new location The former building is now known as the CO-OP, a downtown office + retail space, but the ghost sign (and name of the artistic alleyway) is a permanent reminder of the building’s past.

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Photo via NOOGAtoday

🏢 Clyde’s Auto Glass | 122 W. Main St.

Now the site of Hi-Fi Clyde’s, this sign feels a little less ghostly thanks to the spot’s popularity. After purchasing the old Clyde’s Auto Glass building, the Monensa couple who owns several popular spots in town, like Market South, Community Pie, and Taco Mamacitakept the sign out front in addition to the old car repair shop’s name, brick walls, garage doors that were repurposed into bay windows.

The original repair shop owner, Clyde Grant, was a celebrated WWII paratrooper whose legacy lives on in the spot — there’s even a picture of him that was left in the office displayed in the restaurant.

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Photo via NOOGAtoday

🏢 Grand Hotel | 1401 Market St.

Last but not least, situated in the shadows of the Kinley Hotel is another ghost sign advertising The Grand Hotel, with the words “Fire Proof” also visible underneath.

Now known as The Grand apartment complex, the site formerly housed a stately hotel with fire-proof rooms. Check out this cool before + after shot + this historic pamphlet about the hotel.

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