Home » Tennessee » North Chattanooga

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

North Chattanooga


Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Don’t Know
Unions, Organized Labor?
Don’t Know

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Was there an ordinance?
Yes, Written Evidence
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Don’t Know

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld

Method of Exclusion

  • Police or Other Official Action

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


email 3/2008
FYI, it’s been a long time since North Chattanooga was exclusively white. It’s mixed race and mixed income at the moment, though in the past 20 years there’s been some urban gentrification that has probably skewed the demographic back toward the white side. Ironically, the gentrification was boosted in part by the conversion of the Walnut Street Bridge (crossing the Tennessee River from downtown Chattanooga to North Chattanooga) to the world’s longest all-pedestrian bridge. Why the irony? Because the Walnut St. Bridge was the site of an infamous lynching back in the bad old days.

Chattanooga Daily Times, November 10, 1915.
(reproduced on SouthernHistory.net)
Edited by James B. Jones, Jr.
North Chattanooga’s Mayor Introduces Ordinance.
Plans To Keep the Town Exclusively White.
Measure Said To Be So Drawn As to Avoid Attack on
Grounds of
Unconstitutional Provisions.
When the ordinance introduced last night by
Mayor J. Read Voigt receives its third and final
reading favorably from the board of city
commissioners and goes into effect, North
Chattanooga will be the only municipality of its size
in the United States, so far as is known, inhabited
exclusively, with the exception of possibly two
families, by white people.
The ordinance prepared and introduced by
Mayor Voigt prohibits any colored person from
moving into and occupying as a residence any
house upon any block upon which the greater
number of houses are occupied by white people. It
also provides that it shall be unlawful for white
people to move into a lock where the majority of
residents are negroes [sic]. However, the ordinance
provides that all existing property rights shall be
respected. Where a negro [sic] occupies a house
previous to and at the time of the passage of the
ordinance, his rights will be respected and he will
be permitted to remain there, but will not be
allowed to move his place of dwelling.
The ordinance was prepared in order to
prevent conflict and ill feeling between the white
and colored people of the town, and it seems to
meet with much favor among a great number of the
residents of North Chattanooga. The provisions of
the ordinance do not prevent domestic servants
from living on the property of their employes.
There are now only two families of colored
people living in North Chattanooga, and the
passage of this ordinance will consequently make
the town practically of an exclusively [sic] white
population. Mayor Voigt has been working on the
bill for some time and has included such
provisions, which, because of their absence in
similar ordinances introduced in other cities,
caused their defeat.

Some of the Defects in Previous Ordinances.
The segregation of the two races first
commenced in the marriage laws, then to the
separation of the school children, out of which later
grew the Jim Crow car laws, and now they are
extending to ordinances in the city. Baltimore
passed one in 1911 which was declared
unconstitutional because it did not undertake to
legislate on what constituted a mixed block, nor
were any provisions made for protecting existing
property rights.

A similar ordinance was introduced at
Winston, N. C., but in 1914 it was declared
unconstitutional because the charter of the city
authorized no such legislation and the law did not
protect the vested property rights. For the same
reason of non protection of property rights, the
supreme court of Georgia declared the Atlanta
ordinance unconstitutional. A similar ordinance at
Richmond, Va., failed for a like cause. An
ordinance of this character, however, is now in
force in Louisville, because that city, profiting by
the experiences of other municipalities made
provisions to respect existing property rights.

The North Chattanooga ordinance is regarded
as giving even more protection to property rights,
and Mayor Voigt seems to have no fear that it will
not stand. He says he has investigated carefully the
weak points of the ordinances declared
unconstitutional in other cities, and has
strengthened his ordinance accordingly.

December 22, 1915
Chattanooga Daily Times
Segregation Ordinance Passes Third and Final
In North Chattanooga it is against the law for a
negro [sic] and white person to live on the same
block. That is to say, a negro [sic] cannot occupy a
house on a block where the majority of residents
are white people. Neither can a white person live
on a block where the majority of resident are
negroes [sic]. As there are now no negroes [sic] in
North Chattanooga, it might be called the only town
of its size in the country where the population is
exclusively white.
This ruling became a law last night at the
meeting of the city commissioners. The ordinance
was prepared sometime ago by Mayor Voigt and
passed its third and final reading last night. The
ordinance was carefully written, based on similar
ordinances in other cities, but with all the
objectionable or unconstitutional features
eliminated. It places restriction on one race as
much as it does the other, the one that happens to
be in the majority receiving the chief benefit. [sic].
Mayor Voigt has received many compliments
on his segregation ordinance. The North
Chattanoogans seem to feel proud of the fact they
not only are to soon have a complete sewerage
system, but they are also the only exclusively white
city of its size in the state. When Jan. 1 [1916] rolls
around, and it will not be very long, either, it will be
against the law for hogs to run around on the
streets of North Chattanooga. In fact, it will be
illegal for anyone living within the corporate limits
of the city to raise hogs on their property.
[reproduced on SouthernHistory.net]