Why the Ochs Center

The Ochs family has played a dramatic and historic role in the development and progress of the Chattanooga region. No name better symbolizes the impact that Chattanooga has had on the region, the nation and the world


Adolph Ochs

In 1877, Adolph Ochs came to Chattanooga. One year later, he bought The Chattanooga Times and "transformed the ragged daily into one of the South's leading newspapers." In his role as publisher, Ochs became a voice for municipal reform and "the Times became an outspoken advocate of honest, efficient government." As a community leader, Adolph Ochs "emerged as Chattanooga's greatest booster," helping to form Chattanooga's first public library, working to establish the Chickamauga-Chattanooga Military Park and to preserve much of Lookout Mountain.

In 1896, Adolph Ochs acquired controlling ownership of The New York Times for $75,000, "nearly all of it borrowed." Under Ochs' leadership and based upon lessons learned in Chattanooga, the New York Times was transformed and became the standard bearer for jounalism nationally and internationally.

After leaving Chattanooga to take control of the New York Times, Mr. Ochs remained dedicated to Chattanooga. He frequently returned to the city and regularly promoted the city and its institutions. Among other contributions, Mr. Ochs endowed a chair in City government and politics at what was then the University of Chattanooga. In 1935, on a visit to Chattanooga, Adolph Ochs died at the age of 77


George Ochs

George Ochs came to Chattanooga in 1879 to work for his brother, Adolph Ochs, at the Chattanooga Times. In 1890, he was elected to a seat on the Chattanooga City Commission and served as President of the Police Commission from 1891-1892.

George Ochs was elected Mayor of Chattanooga in 1893 and served for two terms until 1897. As Mayor, Ochs led construction of the city's first municipal auditorium and first city hall. Following his service as Mayor, George Ochs also was President of the Board of Education from 1896 to 1899


Ruth Holmberg

The granddaughter of Adolph Ochs, Ms. Holmberg came to Chattanooga in 1946 and rose to a leadership role at the Chattanoooga Times, which was still owned by the Ochs family. She was the publisher of the Chattanooga Times from 1964 to 1992 and chaired The Times Printing Company from 1992 to 1999.

Under her leadership, the Chattanooga Times became a leading voice for civil rights -- becoming one of the only newspapers in the South to editorially support the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

In Chattanooga and in Tennessee, Ms. Holmberg has been a leader in civil rights, the arts, Downtown revitalization and education. She has served on the boards -- often in leadership roles -- of the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association, the Public Education Foundation, the River City Company, the Chamber of Commerce and many other leading civic and not-for-profit organizations.

At the national level, Ms. Holmberg has been a leader on education and arts issues as a member of the Board of the Public Education Network and former member of the Board of the Smithsonian Institution. She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Associated Press, the New York Times Company and was president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.

From generation to generation, the Ochs Family has made extraordinary and unique contributions to the civic betterment of the Chattanooga, the region and the world. And it started in Chattanooga. As Michael Golden, Ms. Holmberg's son, a former reporter at the Chattanooga Times and the current Vice Chair of the New York Times, said, Chattanooga "is where our roots came from. This is where Adolph Ochs developed his instincts and his feelings about journalism that blossomed so well here and in New York City.''

Sources: The New York Times Company, Govan and Livingood, The University of Chattanooga: Sixty Years, The City of Chattanooga and the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

 

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The Dome Building built by Adolph Ochs in 1891.