Looking North from Hotel Patten
1908 - Looking North from Hotel Patten
SOURCE: Chattanooga Public Library
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When was this photo taken?

According to the Chattanooga Library, this was taken by photographer Will H. Stokes and is recorded as being captured in 1912. However, just to the left beyond the Dome Building, the old Hamilton County Courthouse can be clearly seen. It burned to the ground on 7 May 1910 after being struck by lightning.

The photo is shot from the Hotel Patten, which was opened April 1, 1908.

Another clue is in the distance; The Chattanooga Brewing Company’s building is still marked as such. In the 1909 panorama, the logo had been removed from the side of the building.

There are no automobiles. Even in the 1911 Hotel Patten image, several cars can be seen.

So, my best guess places this photo as being taken in the spring or summer of 1908. I’m open to other theories...

Less than one year before state prohibition…

A major liquor distributor, Jos. Thompson Co. Whiskies can be seen at 27 East 9th Street in the Hotel Georgia.

Devoid of trademark laws, during this time period there were literally tens of thousands of brands of widely varying quality. Chattanooga alone had at least 63 different brands of Whiskey

The whiskey industry had been making good use of a loophole in the law by selling liquor by mail. Advertising and marketing of this practice predictably skyrocketed.

Some of the ads from Chattanooga's Joseph Thompson Co. are shown below, with creative content such as:

A Human Endless Chain For Your Convenience - describing the 24-hour work day to ship mail orders.
Shipped in Plain Pail - for $3.50, you could order and receive one gallon of 100-Proof Bourbon shipped in a wooden pail.

In 1909, Chattanooga Brewing Company's name changed to the Purity Extract and Tonic Company and began marketing “near beer,” soft drinks and bottled water as a way to diversify its business.
That same year, the Tennessee State legislature passed a bill that banned the manufacturing of any alcoholic beverages within the state. Governor Malcolm R. Patterson vetoed it, but the General Assembly promptly overrode his vetoes.

One of the products re-marketed was called 'Sinalco'. It remains a popular brand of non-alcoholic drinks with sales in now more than 40 countries. Sinalco is the oldest soft drink brand in Europe. It is produced by Sinalco International, a company headquartered in Duisburg, Germany.