Standard Coosa Thatcher

Ode to an industry that employed generations


© Roy Tuley Photography

A 2400 DPI scan from the original 5"x4" negative creates a remarkably detailed aerial image taken by Roy Tuley. Although undated, it appears to be the late 1950s as the I-24 ‘Ridge Cut’ is barely visible in the upper left. Note the abundance of clothes lines behind houses, and the various cars of the day in their contemporary color schemes.
While earlier color film produced inferior results, this color negative is the best of the collection.

SCT was one of many textile mills that dominated the economy and built their own communities of employees around them.

At the turn of the 20th century the textile industry was expanding southward to provide increased local manufacturing for Southern cotton. With the introduction of electricity, the old water-powered mills of New England were becoming obsolete, and the railroads served growing transportation needs.
In February, 2015, the remaining buildings of the Standard-Coosa-Thatcher Mills were added to National Register of Historic Places.

The first mill buildings were erected in 1916. At that time, Standard, Coosa and Thatcher were three separate mills located directly beside each other. Coosa and Thatcher Spinning plants processed the incoming raw cotton and eventually spun the cotton to a finished yarn - which would be transported to the Standard Processing Plant for further refining (mercerizing) and dyeing.

In 1960, a headline in the New Free Press read: "Standard-Coosa-Thatcher Success Story. One of Content People, Quality Product." It cites high wages for the 2,200 employees, one week of paid vacation, a retirement plan, and death benefits as reasons for the contentment of the workers. It also mentions 500 workers who have been with the company over twenty years and eighty percent of employees, who have been with the company over five years as an indicator for excellent employment conditions.

Through the decline of the textile industry in America, changes in ownership, and eventual bankruptcy, the mills' workforce was dramatically reduced in the early 1980's and were completely closed by 2003.

Currently - plans are underway to convert the building(s) into Standard Coosa Artist Lofts: ‘170 Affordable Live/Work Rental units for artists and their families’

Source: National Register of Historic Places application filing for the SCT site.
SOURCE: Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside
1947 Trade Show Display (click for full image)
Courtesy: Chattanooga History Center
Image Gallery